oil on canvas canvas dimensions 20 x 23 ½ in. (50.8 x 59.7 cm.) frame 25.7 x 29 inches (65.5 x 74 cm.)
Provenance: Christie's London, 2 November 2016, lot 180 (as Attributed to Francesco Guardi), sold for GBP 102.500; Private collection France; Sotheby’s Paris, 17 June 2021, lot 165 (as Attributed to Francesco Guardi)
Literature: A. Bonfand, Francesco Guardi, una burrasca, étude inédite, 2017, cat. 15 as by Francesco Guardi, fig. 1.
J. Byam Shaw, The Drawings of Francesco Guardi, London, 1951, p. 78, no. 73, illustrated. A preparatory sketch for this composition is recorded by Byam Shaw. In several respects this drawing is closer to this painting than to the two versions of this composition by Guardi in the Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal and the Bortolotto collection. The design of the stern of the ship far right is different than in the Montreal picture, the crows nests are depicted at sharper angles and the cliffs along the right edge are more prominently displayed in the drawing and this lot. In the drawing the man standing on the rock has his arms outstretched and is trying to catch the rigging: in this picture he has already caught this.
The splendour of the tragic sea
Francesco Guardi and maritime painting in Venetian art
No Venetian painter was a stranger to the sea. After all, Venice was not only one of the most prominent ports of the Mediterranean, but indeed a city literally submerged in the ocean from time to time. Curiously however, the famous Venetian school of painting showed little interest in maritime motifs, favouring scenes from the iconic architecture of the city rather than seascapes. That is why this painting is a particularly interesting window into not only the painter Francesco Guardi himself – but to the significance of the element of water in art history, in absence as well as in the centre of attention.
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