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Two Caprices of Ancient Ruins

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These two paintings, known as capricci, combine reality and fantasy: set in the Venetian lagoon, they show people, buildings and boats surrounded by invented ruins. The paintings were given to the National Gallery as genuine works by Guardi, but are now thought to be by a nineteenth-century imitator.

The varnish on both has become discoloured and the colours have darkened, Guardi’s stylistic influence is apparent in the thick paint that expresses cloud movement and the heavy outlines that define the landscape. Guardi painted numerous imaginary scenes inspired by his home city of Venice, where he lived and worked.

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