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A Youth with a Velvet Beret, Holding a Pigeon. Etching. 48.5 x 38.2 cm. De Vesme 8.
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.
Guarana left a modest and rare printed oeuvre consisting of nine sheets. The present charming depiction has been executed in a confident, extremely refined and atmospheric etching technique. The very varied hatching patterns in the background are of great graphic delicacy. No less vibrant is the treatment of the different textures and the complexion. Guarana, who demonstrates his talents here to best effect, is one of the last representatives of a great graphic tradition associated with such names as Canaletto, Ricci and Tiepolo. Everything breathes a finesse, not to say an exaggerated refinement and a gentle melancholy, all of which are characteristic features of Venetian art in the second half of the Settecento. A very fine, delicate impression, trimmed to the platemark. Slight traces of handling, otherwise in very good condition. From the collection of I. O. Wessner (Lugt 2562 a).