A Regatta on the Grand Canal
This large drawing captures with freshness and spontaneity the lively atmosphere of the annual gondola race (regatta) on the Grand Canal. At left is the finish line of the race, with the ephemeral colonnaded structure set up for the occasion, where the prizes and flags were awarded to the winning teams; the Renaissance fašade of the Palazzo Balbi is visible behind. Guardi uses his characteristically fluid and evocative pen work to render the decorated gondolas and their gondoliers in detail, and employs rapidly-applied but extremely subtle washes to endow the scene with the sparkling luminosity so unique to Venice.
The view is taken looking north-east from the Palazzo Foscari, a building prominently situated at a sharp bend in the canal, and from which can be seen the longest straight stretch of the waterway towards the Rialto Bridge, just visible in the center. This represents one of the views most sought-after by Grand Tourists to eighteenth-century Venice, especially when the scene - as here - incorporated the activity of the regatta.
Pen and brown ink, brush with brown wash, over black chalk (about 1778)
by Francesco Guardi (Italian, 1712-1793)
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