View of the Villa Loredan at Paese

oil painting depicting grand villa lawns populated with men, women and dogs, circa 1700

Francesco Guardi (1712–1793)
View of the Villa Loredan at Paese
ca. 1780
Oil on canvas, 18 1/4 x 30 1/8 in.
Private collection

Location: Ante-Room

This view of the Villa Loredan at Paese was painted for John Strange (1732–1799), a diplomat (the British Resident in Venice between 1774 and 1786), antiquarian, geologist, and collector, as well as one of Francesco Guardi’s most important patrons. When Strange died, his collection of four hundred and thirty-six paintings, which was sold at auction, included fifteen works by Guardi. The most talented member of a family of painters from Venice, Guardi specialized in vedute, small paintings depicting views of his home city. Immediately recognizable for its elegant and sketchy style, his work is similar to that of the older Canaletto.

The villa at Paese, a small town west of Treviso, on the road to Castelfranco Veneto, was built for the Loredan family by the architect Giorgio Massari around 1719. Strange rented the villa from the family and made it his country residence. Guardi’s painting shows Strange’s villa from the front, with its prominent gate and extensive grounds. To the left of the main building is its barchessa, a utilitarian structure, typically used to store grain. Behind it is the roof of another newly built villa, the Villa Pellegrini. A group of aristocrats—elegant men and women dressed in French fashion, with their small dogs—populate the scene. Almost in the center, providing a stark contrast, are two street urchins.

The painting is part of a set of four canvases of identical dimensions painted for Strange. The other three depict the Villa Loredan from the garden façade (Wrightsman Collection, New York); the Villa Pisani Sagredo, known as the Villa del Timpano Arcuato, at Paese (private collection, on loan to the National Gallery, London); and the gardens of the Palazzo Contarini dal Zaffo in Venice (Art Institute, Chicago). After Strange’s death, the four canvases remained together until 1941, when they were dispersed at the sale of Viscount Rothermere’s collection. The Villa Loredan was demolished before 1833, and only its barchessa survives today.