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Jacopo Guarana

1720 Verona – 1808 Venice

Jacopo Guarana lived from a very early age in Venice, where he was apprenticed to Sebastiano Ricci and Giambatista Tiepolo. He became a member of the Venetian painters’ guild in 1744 and was admitted to the Accademia di Pittura e Scultura in 1756. Initial large contracts for the Ca’ Rezzonico and the Scuola Grande di S. Giovanni Evangelista in the years that followed testify to the great artistic prestige he enjoyed. After a brief sojourn in St. Petersburg, where he executed  a ceiling painting in the Winter Palace for Catherine II in 1762, he subsequently became the leading painter of frescoes for the Venetian nobiltà after Tiepolo’s departure for Madrid. Guarana’s most prominent works include his ceiling paintings in the chiesetta and the banqueting hall of the Doge’s Palace, the paintings for the Villa Pisani in Strà and, as his undisputed masterpiece, the illusionist paintings in the music room of the Ospedaletto, which he executed in 1776/77 together with the architectural painter, Agostino Mengozzi Colonna. Other important commissions were to follow, but the fall of the republic proved a dramatic turning-point in Guarana’s career, since the aristocracy and the clergy largely ceased to provide work. Hence Guarana spent the last years of his life in straitened circumstances and, following his death in 1808, his name and his fame soon fell into oblivion.