|Francesco Lazzaro Guardi (October 5, 1712 – January 1, 1793) was a Venetian painter of veduta, a member of the Venetian School. He is considered to be among the last practitioners, along with his brothers, of the classic Venetian school of painting. His father Domenico and his brothers were also painters, inheriting the family workshop after the father's death in 1716. They probably all contributed as a team to some of the larger commissions later attributed to Francesco. His sister Maria Cecilia married the pre-eminent Veneto-European painter of his epoch, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. His early vedutas show influence both from Canaletto and Luca Carlevarijs.
Guardi's painterly style is known as pittura di tocco (of touch) for its small dotting and spirited brush-strokes. In this he differs from the more linear and architecturally accurate style of Canaletto's painting.This style, a century later, would make Guardi's works highly prized by the French Impressionists.
Guardi did not avoid sometimes painting the ceremonies of Ducal Venice.Ultimately, Guardi's paintings evoke the onset of the dissipation of the venetian republic. The citizenry has shrunken to an impotent lilliputian crowd of "rubber-neckers", unable to rescue the crumbling Republic, as for example in his painting "Fire in the Oil Depot in San Marcuola". It was fitting depiction of the rapidly declining empire, which had declined, in Napoleon's assessment, into a "drawing room of Europe" peopled with casinos, carnivals, and courtesans for hire.