Capriccio with a ruined late Gothic arch, with fishermen on a bridge; and Capriccio with a classical ruined arch, river bank with fishermen, a temple beyond
Seligman, Paris, 1935.
His sale; Charpentier, Paris, 4-5 June 1935, nos. 76-77.
Galleria Canesso, Rome.
Agnew’s, London, by 1967.
The Hon. James Bruce, acquired from the above.
Agnew’s, London, by 1983.
Thos. Agnew and Sons, Ltd., Old Masters, Recent Acquisitions, exh. cat., London, 1968, p. 12, no. 16.
L.R. Bortolatto, L’opera completa di Francesco Guardi, Milan, 1974, pp. 116-18, nos. 468, 480.
Morassi, Guardi: Antonio e Francesco Guardi, Venice, 1975, vol. I, pp. 486, 489, nos. 952, 970; vol. II (illus. fig. 851).
Morassi, Guardi: Antonio e Francesco Guardi, Venice, 1984, vol. I, pp. 486, 489, nos. 952, 970; vol. II (illus. fig. 851).
Painted as pendants, these capricci complement one another by offering two ruinous landscapes with chronologically and stylistically distinct architectural features: one with a gothic arch and one with an arch of classical design. Antonio Morassi dated these views to Francesco Guardi’s mature period, placing them slightly earlier than the analogous pair in the collection of Mrs. Murray S. Danforth, Providence RI, of circa 1760-70 (Morassi, nos. 943 and 969). However, this chronology calls for more contemporary reassessment. The basic composition of the gothic scene, which Morassi described as ‘of excellent quality’ [‘di eccelente qualità’; op. cit, p. 849), appears to have been derived from a larger painting belonging to a set of four by Luca Carlevarijs (1663 – 1730). This set of paintings left Venice in 1763 when Consul Joseph Smith’s collection, to which it belonged, was sold to King George III (see M. Levey, The Later Italian Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen, London, 1964, no. 425, pl. 116). Using the older Italian vedutista’s composition as his point of departure, Guardi composed several distinct capricci. Examples include the signed Capriccio of a ruined arch and port which is datable to the 1760s (Christie’s, London, 5 July 2011, lot 52), the canvas in the Danforth collection (A. Morassi, op. cit, p. 489, no. 969), and finally a capriccio dated by Morassi to circa 1770-80, which closely resembles the present composition (A. Morassi, op. cit, p. 489, no. 968; Musée Picardie, Amiens).
Working on a larger scale than in most other examples of this type, Guardi maintains the basic format employed by Carlevarijs, with the quay descending towards the spectator, although Guardi widens it to fill the entire lower edge of the composition. Carlevarijs’ ruined triumphal arch is transformed into a much wider, late gothic groin vault with a hanging lantern, while the tower and domed churches are replaced with residential architecture. Likewise the port on the composition’s right side is here replaced by a simple bridge. A preparatory drawing for this and other related works was with Colnaghi, London, in 1969. Another related drawing, formerly in the Schäffer collection, London, was also exhibited at Colnaghi (26 June 1970, no. 50).
A preparatory drawing for the Capriccio with a classical ruined arch, river bank with fishermen, a temple beyond is in the National Gallery of Canada (no. 6573), and is nearly identical to the present painting with the exception of the addition of a second horse on the hill to the left (see A.E. Popham and K.N. Fenwick, The National Gallery of Canada, Catalogue of European Drawings, Toronto, 1965, p. 76, no. 113). A second preparatory drawing was formerly in the collection of the Duc de Talleyrand (see A. Morassi, Dessins vénetiens du dix-huitième siècle de la collection du duc de Talleyrand, Milan, p. 29, no. 66). Also related to this group is an upright painting formerly in the collections of Fauchier-Magnan and later Count Antoine Seilern, which is now in the Courtauld Gallery, London.