- Museum number
The 'Festa della Sensa' in St Marks Square, Venice, study for a painting; festival with figures. c.1775
Pen and brown ink, brown wash
- Production date
- 1775 (circa)
Height: 422 millimetres
Width: 655 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This drawing is a preparatory study for the painting in the Gulbekian Foundation in Lisbon (A. Morassi, 'Guardi. L'Opera Completa', Venice, 1984, 3 vols., I, no. 277, fig. 307). Morassi dates the drawing 1775, before the transformation of the wooden structure Bernardino Macaruzzi designed on occasion fo the Festa della Sensa in 1776, although Pietro Zampetti believes the painting in Lisbon is to be dated 1765, implying the preparatory drawing must be also earlier (P.Zampetti, 'Mostra dei Guardi, Venice, 1965, under no. 117). Terisio Pignatti questions the hypothesis of the preparatory drawing on the basis of its almost perfect matching with the painting in Lisbon, arguing it could have been executed afterwards to be sold as an independent work. Albert Craievich does not share this opinion as he argued that it could have been due to a demanding client who required a detailed drawing before commissioning the painting ( see Craievich 2012, p. 222 under no. 84). Guardi was a pioneer in showing St Mark's set up for the Feast of Christ's Ascension, "Sensa" in Venetian dialect. This had a special significance in Venice as the Venetian Republic was said to have been established on that feast day in 421. The fair lasted for 15 days and attracted many visitors. The BM owns another drawing (1910.0212.31) representing the same feast in the square towards San Gemignano.
James Byam Shaw noticed that strangely one of the domes of the basilica is missing and also that there is a figure at the centre drawn on a separate sheet and glued to the main one perhaps by the hand of Giacomo, the artist's son (Byam Shaw 1951, p. 66, no. 35). This may have been done by Giacomo to improve the appearance of the sheet for sale as he sold off his graphic inheritance from his father's studio.
Lit.: J. Byam Shaw, 'The Drawings of Francesco Guardi', London, 1951, no. 40; P.Zampetti, in exhib. cat. Venice, Fondazione Cini, 'Mostra dei Guardi', 1965, p. 228, under no. 117; A. Morassi, 'L'opera Completa, Guardi', Venice, 1984, 3 vols., III, no. 277, fig. 279; A. Craievich and F. Pedrocco, in exhib. cat., Venice, Museo Correr, 'Francesco Guardi. 1712-1793', 2012, no. 84
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1984, BM, 'Master Drawings and Watercolours in the British Museum', No. 40
1993 Aug-Nov, Venice, Cini Foundation, 'Guardi' no. 12
1995 May-July, Venice, Museo di Ca'Rezzonico, Glory of Venice/18thC, no.177
2012-2013 Sep-Jan, Venice, Museo Correr, Francesco Guardi 1712-1793.
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number