One of the last painters of "veduta"; large scale landscapes usually of a city or vista, Francesco Guardi was a painter of the classic Venetian school. Born into a family of painters, and married to the daughter of another painter, Guardi would develop his own style and eventually become admired by the Impressionists during the nineteenth century.
Guardi worked with his brothers until 1735, and many paintings attributed to him up to this point may have actually been group efforts from the family workshop. After leaving the family studio he worked with Michele Marieschi until 1743. His first known independent painting is from 1739.
His work included figure and landscape paintings of the veduta variety, but done in the method known as "bittura di tocco", which relied on unique brush strokes, including dotting. This method, along with his remarkable abilities to convey space and light were the qualities that made him a forerunner of the Impressionists, including Whistler and Monet who would become fans of his work.
By 1750 he was working independently, and would continue to do so for the rest of his life. In 1763 he was working in Murano, painting the "Miracle of a Dominican Saint" in the church of San Pietro Martire. As the years passed Guardi dismissed the influences of his contemporaries and began to demonstrate his own style. He was commissioned by the Venetian government to paint six canvases honoring a visit from the Russian Archdukes in 1782, and in that same year admitted to the Fine Arts Academy at Venice.
In these later years of his life his focus turned towards coloring, and the honesty of his imagery distinguished him from other artists of the region. He did not focus on fine detail or architecture in his last canvases, instead revealing the crumbing Republic through an unchanging atmosphere of dusk, and the dying ceremonies of the ducal state.
He lived in Venice until his death in 1793.