Eighteenth-Century Venetian Drawings from the Fondazione Giorgio Cini and an exceptional loan of a Capriccio by Francesco Guardi

Palazzo Cini. La Galleria, Venice
plus SEP, 19NOV, 15 2015

During the Palazzo Cini Gallery’s loan of the Portrait of Two Friends by Pontormo for an exhibition on 16th-century Florentine portraiture at the Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris,  (Florence. Portraits à la cour des Médicis, 11 September 2015 – 25 January 2016), the French museum has sent in exchange one of the
masterpieces from its historic art collection: a marvellous gouache by the Venetian vedutista Francesco Guardi, depicting a striking architectural capriccio (c. 1760).

Heavily permeated by fluid paint, which the medium of gouache heightens in an opalescent rendering, the work is a vibrant deep view of a corner in the cityscape of a melancholic Venice, reinvented in the light of a sensibility which many describe as pre-Romantic. 

The view is of a campiello, surrounded by dilapidated palazzi with, in the left background, a monastery crowned by a typically Venetian dome. the scene is framed by a portico bristling with vegetation whose overlarge size emphasises the vertiginous diagonal perspective view. Sparkling brushstrokes outline  gures animating the space, while twirls and touches of white, greens and browns create a dynamic chiaroscuro
texture typical of the artist’s tremulous, refracted style.

We  find the same characteristic style and poetics in a later pen and wash architectural capriccio on paper, very similar in terms of the composition and the rendering of light and shade. 

This drawing is preserved in the graphic art collections of the Fondazione Cini, having come from the Giuseppe Fiocco collection.  The major French loan thus becomes a fascinating opportunity to compare the two works in the refurbished space on the second  oor of the gallery. At the same time a rich selection of 18th-century Venetian drawings from the Foundation’s Drawings and Prints Cabinet will also be on show. 

The fascinating itinerary consists of many  ne drawings, mainly from the Fiocco and Fissore Pozzi collections, by Ludovico Dorigny, Giambattista and Giandomenico Tiepolo, Canaletto, Antonio Pellegrini, Giambattista Piazzetta, Giambattista Pittoni, Giuseppe Zais and Bernardino Bison.

The two capricci will be complemented by a large watercolour View of San Giorgio Maggiore,
attributed to Francesco Guardi and donated by Paul Wallraf, whose graphic art collection was
exhibited in the Foundation in 1959. And it is in the spirit of memorable exhibitions of Venetian
drawing organised by the Institute of Art History in the 20th century, that this exhibition
marks the beginning of a season of events aimed at promoting and making better known to the
wider public its graphic art collections in the splendid setting of the Palazzo Cini.