Francesco Lazzaro Guardi (1712 – 1793) was a Venetian painter of veduta (a highly detailed, usually large-scale painting or, actually more often print, of a cityscape or some other vista), 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.
Francesco Guardi was born in Venice into a family of lesser nobility from Trentino. His father Domenico and his brothers Niccolò and Gian Antonio were also painters, later 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.
In 1735, Guardi moved to the workshop of Michele Marieschi, where he remained until 1743. His first certain works are from 1738, for a parish at Vigo d'Anuania, in Trentino. In this period he worked alongside his older brother, Gian Antonio. The first work signed by Francesco is a Saint Adoring the Eucarist (circa 1739).
His works in this period included both landscapes and figure compositions. His early vedutas show influence both from Canaletto and Luca Carlevarijs. On February 15, 1757 he married Maria Mattea Pagani, the daughter of painter Matteo Pagani. In the same year his brother Gian Antonio died and his first son, Vincenzo, was born. His second son, Giacomo, was born in 1764.
In 1763 he worked in Murano, in the church of San Pietro Martire, finishing a Miracle of a Dominican Saint clearly influenced by Alessandro Magnasco in its quasi-expressionistic style.
Francesco Guardi's most important later works include the Doge's Feasts, a series of twelve canvases celebrating the ceremonies held in 1763 for the election of Doge Alvise IV Mocenigo. In his later years, Canaletto's influence on his art diminished, as shown by the Piazzetta in the Ca' d'Oro of Venice. In circa 1778, he painted the severe Holy Trinity Appearing to Sts. Peter and Paul in the parish church of Roncegno.
In 1782 Guardi was commissioned by the Venetian government six canvases to celebrate the visit of the Russian Archdukes in the city, of which only two remain, and two others for that of Pope Pius VI. On September 12 of that year he was admitted to the Fine Art Academy of Venice.