Acquired by a European private collector in circa 1900;
Thence by descent to their grandchild until sold, London, Christie's, 9 April 2003, lot 116, for £240,000.
This capriccio was unknown to scholars until it came to light in 2003. It can be connected with a group of paintings by Guardi depicting capricci of the same ruined arch, a structure inspired by the arcade of the Doge's Palace. Within that group, Antonio Morassi lists six other pictures in which the motif is developed into a four-sided portico-like structure with two open and two closed arches resting on Corinthian columns and supporting a vaulted ceiling.1 All but one of these paintings, that in the Mont collection, New York,2 has a wooden shanty leaning against the side of the portico. The Mont painting and that in the National Gallery, London,3 are upright in format, the other four horizontal.
The present work is particularly close in composition to the National Gallery painting (oil on panel, 20.1 by 15.5 cm.), though differs from it in its figures, the tomb on the wall to the left of the present composition which takes the place of a closed arch in the National Gallery picture, and the cypress trees projecting above the wall to the left which are entirely absent in the other version. The London picture can be dated to the mid-1770s.4 A slightly later date of circa 1778-80 seems more likely for the present work and such a dating is supported by Dr. Dario Succi, who will be including the painting in his forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the works of Francesco Guardi.
1. A. Morassi, Guardi: I Dipinti, Venice 1984, vol. I, pp. 488-89, nos. 966-71, vol. II, figs, 846, 850, 851, 852 and 855.
2. Morassi, op. cit., no. 967.
3. Morassi, ibid., no. 966.
4. M. Levey, National Gallery Catallgues, Italian Schools, The 17th and 18th Century, 1971, p. 124.
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