Eye Candy for Today: Giacomo Guardi gouache painting of Venice

View of the Rialto Bridge, Giacomo Guardi, gouache on paper
View of the Rialto Bridge, Giacomo Guardi

Gouache on paper, roughly 5 x 9 inches (13 x 24 cm); in the collection of the Morgan Library and Museum.

On the Morgan’s page, you can use the Download link under the image, or the Zoom tab above it. When using the zoom, it’s helpful to know that in the controls under the image, the last one on the right opens the zoomed image full screen.

When viewed in detail, the wonderful economy of Guardi’s notation becomes evident. Abbreviated brush lines delineate the windows, splashes of opaque gouache form heads and bodies, and brief indications of value change give the buildings dimension. Look at the way the reflections are indicated under the buildings at right.

3 Replies to “Eye Candy for Today: Giacomo Guardi gouache painting of Venice”

  1. What a beautiful picture.
    Do we know how close gouache in the late 1700s was to what we have today?

    1. Probably pretty close. The binder, gum arabic, would be essentially the same. Gouchae is made more opaque than watercolor either by increasing the pigment load, leaving the size of the particles of the ground pigment larger, or by adding an opacifier, usually in the form of whitening (calcium carbonate, i.e. chalk) titanium dioxide, talc or marble dust — or combinations of the above. The same methods would be applied today. James Gurney has a terrific post on his blog in which he asked the major manufacturers to describe their gouache ingredients: Gouache Ingredients: Info from Manufacturers

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