A magnificent view of Venice’s Rialto Bridge, a masterpiece by the great Venetian painter Francesco Guardi (1712-1793), has gone on display at The Courtauld Gallery. Privately owned, The Rialto Bridge from the North with the Palazzo Camerlenghi was painted around 1768. Monumental in scale, the painting encapsulates the lively scene around this busy stretch of the Grand Canal which was the commercial and geographical centre of Venice. The Renaissance Palazzo Camerlenghi, built from 1525- 28, stands on the right of the bridge while nearby are the city’s principal markets, the Fabbriche Vecchie and the corner of the Fabbriche Nuove, with their bustling quays.
The Rialto Bridge from the North with the Palazzo Camerlenghi complements The Rialto Bridge looking North from the Fondamenta del Carbon sold by Sotheby’s in 2011. Together with two other paintings executed around the same time (one of which has been destroyed and the other is in a private collection), these works are considered to represent the pinnacle of Guardi’s career and they are amongst the greatest and most imposing of all Venetian view paintings. The painting loaned to The Courtauld is exceptional for its large size, 116 by 199.5 cm. Guardi never painted on this scale again. It will be displayed at The Courtauld in Room 4 in close proximity to the Gallery’s rich collection of oil sketches by Guardi’s contemporary, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696- 1770), another outstanding Venetian master.
Francesco Guardi was, after Canaletto, the main painter of views of Venice in the 18th century. His early figurative paintings were carried out in association with his brother, Gian Antonio, but in about 1760 Guardi turned to view painting. Following Canaletto he recorded both the architecture of the city and the celebrations of its inhabitants in interior and exterior scenes. These works brought him great success. Guardi was born in Venice, the son of a minor painter, Domenico Guardi. In 1719 his sister married Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, who may have influenced the vivacity and bright colouring of Guardi’s figures. While Guardi followed Canaletto in producing views or vedute, he soon developed his own style, based on a freer handling of paint. He took particular pleasure in rendering the vibrant atmosphere of Venetian light and its dazzling effect on water. This is a rare oppertunity to see this important work in a grand period setting.
The Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN Visit