Francesco Guardi
(Venedig, 1712-1793, Venedig)
Crucifixion, ca. 1740/50
Oil on canvas, 72.5 x 55.5 cm
Morassi 177
This representation of a Crucifixion, which turned up in a French private collection in 1952, obviously is one of that group done during the collaboration of Francesco Guardi with his brothers Giovanantonio and Niccolo lasting until 1760. After the death of their father, Domenico Guardi, in 1716, the two younger sons – as soon as they were old enough – worked in their father’s studio under the direction of Giovanantonio, who, being the eldest, had automatically become the head of the family. His style, developed under his father’s guidance, was at first the decisive influence in the brothers’ joint productions. Thus they painted mainly altarpieces for little known churches and historical paintings for various palaces and villas in the current taste of the time, as well as copies of 16th and 17th century paintings. Along with a certain dependence on the manner of Paul Troger, Giovanantonio’s decorative way of handling figures reveals that the artist was influenced by Piazzetta’s glowing colours and the sensitive brushwork of Sebastiano Ricci, with the artist attempting to compensate for his compositional inadequacy by means of brilliant presentation and a highly effective application of light reflections. On the other hand, Francesco Guardi’s artistic individuality does not become apparent until after about 1740. He then begins with chiaroscuro figure compositions, against a shallow depth. The figures are dramatically conceived, the plastic effect being balanced by sensitive brushwork.