FRANCESCO GUARDI (1712-1793): PORTRAIT OF A YOUNG LADY
Oil, canvas on wood panel.
According to the expert opinion prepared by Dario Succi, â€œThe light falling from the right accentuates the enchanting tender characteristics of the young lady depicted on this as yet unknown painting by Francesco Guardi, the final and insurmountable exponent of 18th century Venetian painting who primarily worked on veduta paintings. From the 1750s he discovered his own inimitable style of expressive painting, the originality of which exceeded that of other veduta painters; following the death of Canaletto (1768) he became the most sought-after painter by collectors and experts around Europe at the time. Francesco occasionally forayed into portraiture, and in the most advanced phase of his career he created the â€˜Teste di fantasiaâ€™ (â€˜fantasy headsâ€™) series, the majority of which were inspired by Giambattista Tiepolo's heads. The portrait of the young lady is an example of the level of excellence Francesco achieved in portrait painting. In this portrait, the painter focuses on her curly hair in front, her face and her neck. The auburn brown curls are held up with a crown of flowers from the countryside â€“ cornflowers, wild poppies and daisies. Francesco's light brush is triumphant here, and it seems the young lady depicts the allegory of spring changing to summer. In terms of iconography and style, this painting can be placed alongside the â€˜Four Fantasy Portraitsâ€™ at Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury â€“ small, charming works that Antonio Morassi ascribed to the late work of Francesco Guardi (cf. Morassi, Guardi â€“ Paintings, Venice 1973, cat. no. 229, fig. 248, 249, 250 and 251). The quality of the execution, various strokes â€“ one gentle, one vibrant and sharp â€“ dates the portrait to the 1780s.â€ The painting comes from a major foreign private collection.