Venice, 1712 - Venice, 1793
Around 1760, gouache on paper, 53 x 39 cm
Francesco Guardi is the complete opposite of his fellow countryman Canaletto. Canaletto is attached to the objective, almost scientific, representation of the city as much as Guardi finds the opportunity for romantic reverie in his depictions of Venice. Therefore, this Paysage de fantaisie (Imaginary landscape) is closer to melancholy than to a topographical view.
Francesco Guardi is well known for his views of Venice which illustrate the very special atmosphere of the city so successfully: its ever-changing light, the meeting of the sky and the lagoon with the same translucent and silver luminosity. The small square that he paints here, this campo enlivened by people, is not one specific place in Venice. One would search in vain to locate this gate from which a lantern hangs, this church with a dome and this palace with a wide staircase. And yet it is indeed Venice itself, not the city of great festivities, but the familiar city with its cracked walls invaded by the vegetation.
Guardi used gouache on paper, a technique little used in his work. It gives a very particular lightness and transparency to the brushstrokes.
Edouard André bought this work very early, in 1864, recognising a masterpiece at once.