With the distinctive Doge's Palace and the bell-tower of Saint Mark's at left, and several large ships docked at right, the composition represents a view taken from the waterfront close to the church of San Biagio and not far from the public gardens in Venice. By relegating the city's famous architecture to the background, and giving dominance to the foreground shipping, Bonington reconceived the work of Canaletto and Guardi, instead recalling the maritime roots of Venice's power. Yet the view gives ample opportunity to showcase Bonington's renowned ability to capture the effects of light and water for which the city is so famous, with the trademark rendering of the calm lagoon and mobile clouds that became so influential on British and continental watercolor painting.


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