Fire in the quarter of San Marquola, Francesco Guardi, 1789

Description of the picture:

Fire in the quarter of San Marquola – Francesco Guardi. 1789. Oil on canvas. 32×51
The fire of oil depots on November 28, 1789 in the Venetian Ghetto is another alarming symbol that foreshadowed the sunset of the majestic town. Seventy-eight-year-old painter, despite the malaise, still made full-scale sketches. One of them, now in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, served as the basis for the painting. “Fire in the quarter of San Marquola” (2nd drawing – at the Correr Museum in Venice).

The flames that spread to the houses adjacent to the warehouses highlighted the walls and roofs on which firefighters heroically tried to resist it. The foreground is almost all horizontal indicated by the backs of onlookers and sympathizers. A hot palette of shades of reddish and golden colors burst into the twilight flavor, so tangibly transmitting the heat of a monstrous fire. Guardi’s dynamic brush with a live brushstroke, transferring random pores to the walls of the flame onto the canvas, becomes truly free and fast. The artist does not try to draw fire, he conveys its destructive, all-consuming essence. Such an embodiment of fiery fury, experiments in the field of color will meet only several decades later in the work of the romantic Englishman William Turner. The lessons of the Venetians in almost everything will become the basis for artists who prioritize color in the system of painting searches."

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