1712 – 1793
A Rider in a Landscape
Francesco Guardi can, with all conviction, be called the greatest of the Venetian landscape and Vedute painters of the eighteenth Century. He began his career as a pupil of his father, Gian Domenico, as did his elder brother Gian-Antonio Guardi. By 1735 though he had moved to the studio of Michele Marieschi and remained there until 1743. Cecilia, the artist’s sister married Gian Battista Tiepolo and was to become the mother of Gian Domenico Tiepolo. They proved a truly artistic family. His father had been a pupil of Sebastiano Ricci, an artist who would also to exert a strong influence on the young Francesco.
Guardi's great contribution to Italian landscape painting was his uniquely volatile approach to drawing with a wonderful 'wet' application of paint to the surface of both canvas and panel. He delighted in capturing the dazzling Venetian light and the way it plays on the ever-present water.
His topographical compositions are carefully constructed and often depict figure groups. His capriccio views are delightful and bright with verve and drama, almost the complete antithesis of the carefully composed works of his contemporary, Canaletto.
The single figure on a horse appears to be unique in the oeuvre of Francesco Guardi. His compositions tend to be bustling with life and it is rare for him to have focused on one central image as is the case here. The closest comparison would seem to be the two capricci by the artist, of very similar dimensions, that were sold at auction in France in 1994. These also share their broad horizons and relatively empty landscapes with our painting.
Thomas Wentworth Beaumont (1792-1848) or his son, Wentworth Blackett Beaumont, 1st Baron Allendale (1829-1907), and by descent, first at Bretton Hall, Yorkshire, until circa 1947, and then at Bywell Hall, Northumberland.
Newcastle, Hatton gallery, Festival Exhibition, 1951, no 18.