The most accomplished member of a family of eighteenth - century Venetian painters, Guardi produced numerous views of his native city as well as imaginary landscapes and architectural fantasies (capricci). The Piazza San Marco is the civic and religious center of Venice. Predictably, pictures of this stunning townscape have been much sought after - a demand that every Venetian view painter has attempted to satisfy.
Guardi began to paint the Piazza soon after he turned his attention to the topography of his native town, and he produced numerous versions of the subject in the course of the next 35 years. These differ from each other mostly with regard to the varying activities of small figures who populate the scene, and changes in the time of day depicted. These compositions echo similar depictions of the piazza by Canaletto (1697-1760), but Guardi has departed from the latter's practice by employing cooler colors and widening the space, thus abandoning the realism of his predecessor.
This version, thought to have been created in the mid - 1770s, has always been paired with Guardi's "The Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge". In his seventh decade, Guardi's palette took on the silvery tonality evident in these works, yielding images of a Venice at once familiar and transmuted into other worldly visions of perfection.
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