View of Campo San Polo
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Francesco Guardi
Italian, Venice, about 1790
Pen and brown ink and brown wash over black chalk
7 9/16 x 11 1/4 in.

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Francesco Guardi set up his easel on the south side of Campo San Polo, in Venice, to capture the north side of the square on a sunny day in the late 1700s. The Campo San Polo was a residential square, unlike the famous tourist spot, Saint Mark's, that he usually sketched.

Guardi filled the scene with minute details for an intimate glimpse of urban life in Venice. He paid great attention to delineating the intricate colonnades along the facades of the palaces on the right. The buildings on the left are more varied in type and height, penetrated here and there with windows and arcades, their chimneys rising into the expanse of sky.

Across the square, loosely drawn couples stop to chat in the sunshine, bend to examine something on the ground, or walk hand-in-hand. These small details not only give a sense of the square's great scale and height but also humanize the scene. Guardi used wash throughout to create a lively play of light and shadow.