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Two Fanciful Scenes

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Buildings and Figures near a River with Shipping and its companion piece Buildings and Figures near a River with Rapids date from around the mid-1730s. Both show windmills and crumbling towers, and spirited figures gathered along the water’s edge on horseback and foot; both are surrounded by water – the sea, canals and rivers were a lifeline to those living in and around Venice.

Marieschi spent his early career in Venice but we know very little about his training. He began to paint vedute (view paintings) having been encouraged by the great success of his fellow Venetian artist, Canaletto, but these scenes are distinguished from Canaletto’s work by their exaggerated perspective, more atmospheric colour and loose brushstrokes. These capricci views – works that combine fantasy elements and reality – were likely inspired by those of Guardi, like A Caprice with Ruins on the Seashore (also in the National Gallery’s collection).

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