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View of the Rialto, Venice, from the Grand Canal, c. 1780-90

Francesco Guardi

Italian, 1712-1793
Oil on canvas
17 x 24-3/4 in. (43.2 x 62.9 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

On view

Guardi's view of the Rialto from the Grand Canal is an impressive example of the cityscape that is one of Venice's great contributions to our visual experience. The Rialto was one of the busiest intersections of the city, as the bridge was the only one spanning the Grand Canal until the middle of the nineteenth century. Looking south toward the Rialto is the Riva del Ferro, at right, and the Riva del Vin, at left, where barrels of iron and wine, respectively, were unloaded. The flickering white highlights create an agitated rhythm that, when combined with the almost abstract patterns of broken colors in the buildings, transforms an actual view into a vision of glittering, ever-changing life.

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