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The Entrance to the Arsenal in Venice

Francesco Guardi1777/1793

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien

Details

  • Title: The Entrance to the Arsenal in Venice
  • Creator: Francesco Guardi
  • Date Created: 1777/1793
  • Provenance: acquired in 1912
  • Physical Dimensions: w450 x h290 cm
  • Inventory Number: GG 6234
  • Type: painting
  • Rights: With free and easy pastose brushstrokes and light colours, Guardi painted a variation on a composition created in the 1730s by his great Venetian predecessor Antonio Canal, called Canaletto (1697–1768). In Venice, Canaletto had developed the veduta (Italian: “view”) into a special form of landscape painting and found a wide clientele of patrons and purchasers, especially among affluent English tourists. In the work of Canaletto’s nephew, Bernardo Bellotto, the architectural veduta became a European phenomenon; Guardi continued to develop the type, but only in Venice. In contrast to Canaletto and Bellotto, he was less exact in the depiction of his scenes: in his paintings the city of Venice seems highly idealised and flooded with magical light. The architecture and the figures added as accessories (staffage) combine to create a unified atmosphere. Guardi chose a motif for the present painting that was not among the main attractions for 18th-century travellers. Instead he represented Venetian military power, which was no longer in its heyday. In 1570, before the great sea battle between the Christian and Turkish forces at Lepanto, the Venetian Arsenal had produced about a hundred warships in only a short time. The extensive shipyard stretches out behind the impressive gate at the centre of the composition. This small-format veduta was acquired for the imperial collection in 1912, along with its counterpart (St. Mark’s Square in Venice; KHM, GG, Inv. No. 6233). © Cäcilia Bischoff, Masterpieces of the Picture Gallery, Vienna 2010

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