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View of the Santa Maria della Salute with the Dogana di Mare, c. 1780

Francesco Guardi
Italian, 1712-1793
Oil on canvas
16-3/4 x 20-3/8 in. (42.5 x 51.8 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

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Francesco Guardi specialized in painting picturesque views of Venice for European tourists. Depicted here is Santa Maria della Salute, the great domed church that dominates the mouth of the Grand Canal. Guardi characteristically emphasized not the specific Venetian monument, but his overall impression of the scene: the lively figures, the crisscross of boats in the canal and, above all, the effects of sunlight, water and open sky. This animated composition shows the loose, broken brushwork and delicate rendering of sparkling water and moist atmosphere that would later inspire the Impressionists.

Born and bred in Venice, recognition and financial security came to Guardi only as he approached middle-age. Fame arrived posthumously and he is now recognized as one of Venice’s most poetic artists celebrated for his evocative views of his native city.

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