A Capriccio of classical Ruins with Peasants and a Sol
(Gianantonio Guardi)


This Capriccio of classical Ruins with Peasants and a Sol is a highly personal interpretation by Gianantonio Guardi of the large, magnificent canvas by Marco Ricci, who specialised in this kind of capriccio, and Sebastiano Ricci (the latter being responsible for the foreground figures), now in the Museo Civico, Vicenza (see Fig. 1). That painting is generally dated to the mid-1720s. The basic components of the composition are retained here, even down to the colours of most of the articles of clothing worn by the figures. The vivacious brushwork, the enlargement of the figures, the heightening of the tonal contrasts and the darkening of the colour in general, however, give it a very different character. The present painting was first published by Egidio Martini , as the work of Francesco Guardi, to whom he also attributed a pair of capricci in the Crespi Collection, Milan, which are closely related in style and similarly painted on unprepared fir panels. The latter had long been considered among Antonio Guardi’s rare excursions in a genre for which his younger brother is well known . Martini’s reattribution of the Crespi panels was reversed by Dario Succi , who also demonstrated convincingly Antonio’s authorship of the present picture.

The attribution to Francesco had, however, instead of Gianantonio Guardi,  been lent some weight by the existence of a third version, signed by Francesco but with figures closely related in style to those of his older brother (see Fig. 2). On canvas, this omits some of the buildings on the left and the statue towards the right, and is much less dramatic in mood. Extensively published, it had generally been presumed to be an early work, datable to the 1740s and based on the Ricci painting at Vicenza. Dario Succi had already corrected its dating, and that of its pendant in the Kunsthaus Heylshof, Worms, to circa 1765-70 . With the re-emergence of the present picture, the dependence of Francesco’s version on it, rather than the Ricci prototype, became clear, and the Antonio-like character of his figures was explained. A further, but much smaller, variation on the theme by Francesco, also signed and datable to the 1760s, is in a private collection at Udine .

36 ¼ x 51 5/8 in. 92 x 131 cm.
Oil on panel

Private Collection, Paris and Geneva.


E. Martini, Pittura veneta dal Ricci al Guardi, Venice, 1977, p. 62, fig. 50.
E. Martini, La pittura del Settecento veneto, Udine, 1982, p. 548, note 337, fig. 809.
D. Succi, ‘Gianantonio Guardi’ in the catalogue of the exhibition Capricci veneziani del Settecento, Castello di Gorizia, June-Sept. 1988, pp. 314-8, fig. 15.
A. Scarpa Sonino, Marco Ricci, Milan, 1991, p. 136,
under no. 109.
A. Delneri in the catalogue of the exhibition Marco
Ricci e il paesaggio veneto del Settecento, Palazzo Crepadona, Belluno, 15 May-22 Aug. 1993, p. 221, under no. 36.
D. Succi in idem, p. 282, under no. 97.
E. Martini in Per gli ottant’anni di Pietro Zampetti, Ancona, 1993, fig. 5.
T. Vecchi in the catalogue of the exhibition Francesco Guardi: Vedute Caprici Feste, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, 1993, pp. 146 and 168.

Historical Period
Rococo - 1720-1780
Capriccio: Architecture
Italian - Venetian
1999-Collectanea 1700-1800.
Hard back catalogue of the Exhibition held in London and New York, 220 pages fully illustrated with 46 colour plates. £30 or $40 inc. p.& p.

(Click on image above)
Price band
$750,000 - $1,000,000