GUARDI, Francesco
(b. 1712, Venezia, d. 1793, Venezia)

San Cristoforo, San Michele and Murano, Seen from the Fondamenta Nuove

Oil on canvas, 60,5 x 91 cm
Kunsthaus, Zurich

This view of the Lagoon was taken from the Fondamenta Nuove, where Francesco Guardi kept a studio for some time. From there, one could see on the left the island of San Cristoforo, like so many other islands in the Lagoon the site of a monastery. Diagonally behind San Cristoforo is the island of San Michele, the location of the oldest Renaissance church of Venice, designed in 1469 by Mauro Codussi. In the eighteenth century San Cristoforo and San Michele were two separate islands, but during the Napoleonic period they were connected in order to expand the cemetery of San Michele. At that time the monastic complex of San Cristoforo della Pace was demolished. Finally, behind San Michele lies the island of Murano with its famous glassworks.

Artistic interest in the islands of the Lagoon first manifested itself in a series of prints by Antonio Visentini from 1738, which concentrate on the ecclesiastical buildings on these islands. In his paintings of the Lagoon, on the other hand, Guardi focused on the nearly motionless surface of the water and on the constant play of light and reflection so characteristic of the Venetian scene. In so doing he captured the unique atmosphere of the Lagoon in a manner comparable to no more than a few prints and drawings by Canaletto.