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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Antonio Guardi

Antonio Guardi

Italian, Venice, 1699 - 1760

Venetian painter Gian Antonio Guardi was born and baptized in Vienna, Austria in 1699. His father, Domenico Guardi, was also an artist and headed a studio in Venice, where he trained Gian Antonio. Gian Antonio's younger brothers, Francesco (b.1712) and Nicolò (b. 1715), were also trained by their father and would go on to become painters. Gian Antonio's younger sister, Cecilia (b. 1702), was not trained as an artist, but married famed painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo in 1719.

After Domenico Guardi's death in 1716, Gian Antonio inherited his family's studio, which he shared with his brothers. Gian Antonio instructed students in the art of painting and also produced works of his own. Gian Antonio's earliest documented work is Saint John of Nepomuk, which was signed by the artist in 1717. The early work of Gian Antonio Guardi was influenced mainly by the work of his brother-in-law, Tiepolo, and by Sebastiano Ricci. Guardi's notoriety grew throughout the 1720s, a period during which Guardi produced a number of religious-themed works and altarpieces.

In 1730, Guardi was employed as the painter-in-residence of Venetian Field Marshal Johann Matthias von Schulenburg. Guardi remained in Schulenburg's employ for fifteen years and received commissions for portraits of European aristocrats and produced copies of works by other Venetian masters, like Titian, Tintoretto, and Ricci. During this period, Guardi collaborated with Francesco Simonini, an Italian artist known for painting battle scenes. Perhaps as a result of this collaboration, Guardi added battle-scene painting to his repertoire and the genre was also taught at his studio.

In 1755, Gian Antonio was nominated by Tiepolo to become one of the thirty-six founding members of the Ventian Accademia di Belle Arti. In 1756, he was formally elected into the Accademia. Four years later, in 1760, Guardi died.

Though Guardi was well-known as an artist during his lifetime, he was largely unknown to art historians until the twentieth century. Many of his works had historically been attributed to his brother, Francesco, who had also become a popular eighteenth-century artist. The fact that only two paintings are known to have been signed by Gian Antonio (Saint John Neopmuk and an altarpiece depicting the Death of Saint Joseph) added to the confusion. Additionally, many works produced by the Guardi studio represent collaborations between the brothers, who developed similar styles as a result of working together closely. Today, art historians use contemporary eighteenth-century documentation and a growing understanding of Gian Antonio's unique style to correctly label works by the Guardi brothers.

  • painting
  • Italian
  • Venice, Italy

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