Mr. Lucien Martin, Montreal, by circa 1925;
Thence by descent in the family.
Although unusual in Francesco Guardi's oeuvre, this picturesque, yet somewhat melancholic, motif is repeated by the artist in two other slightly varied versions, both on panel. The first and largest of the three, was in the Loyd collection, Lockinge House, Berkshire, from 1867 until it was recently sold, Christie's, London, April 22, 1994, lot 22, for £265,500 ($393,216). The second, horizontal in format, and the smallest of the three, was sold at Sotheby's, New York, June 2, 1989, as part of lot 71, for $210,000. Both of these differ from the present work with the inclusion of two figures standing to the left of the two men intent on the pavement, apparently playing dice.
A drawing in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (no. 37.165.70), linked to the panel in the Loyd collection also shows these two extra figures.
In a private correspondence of April 14, 2006, Dario Succi confirms the attribution of this picture to Francesco Guardi, and places it in the later phase of Guardi's career, to circa 1785, a date that corresponds to Morassi's view of the Loyd picture: that it is a late work by the artist.
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