Francesco Guardi was the last and most imaginative of the great Venetian vedutisti. He is best known for his views of Venice and Venetian capricci in which he captured the atmospheric effects of the city's beauty.
Born in Venice in 1712, Francesco Guardi was the son of the artist Domenico Guardi (1678-1716), who came from a family in the Trentino which had been granted a patent of nobility by Emperor Ferdinand III in 1643. Francesco began his artistic career as a figure painter in the studio of his elder brother Antonio (1699-1760). Together they collaborated on altarpieces and historical scenes. Guardi was inscribed in the Venetian fraglia in 1761 and appointed Professor of Perspective at the Venetian Academy in 1784.
It was not until the late 1750s that Guardi started to concentrate primarily on view painting; the majority of his vedutedate from the 1760s onwards. Guardi received many commissions from foreigners resident in Venice as well as Italian noble families. In 1778, the Doge granted a licence for Guardi's views to be engraved and he was also employed by the government to record state events such as the festivities held in honour of Pope Pius VI's visit to Venice in 1782. He travelled in the Trentino in 1778 and 1782 and died in Venice in 1793.
The work of Francesco Guardi is represented in the Museo Correr, Venice; the British Museum, London; the National Gallery, London; the Musée du Louvre, Paris; the Alte Pinakothek, Munich and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.