This painting, together with the River of Mendicanti, was bought by the City of Venice in 1983. These masterpieces by the young Canaletto were originally both part of a set of four works, owned by the Princes of Liechtenstein in Vienna (the other two are currently in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid).
This landscape is an early example of a series of several other pictures that Canaletto produced over a period of time from the same location. It accentuates Venice’s unique quality as a “city of water,” stretching out across the width of the Grand Canal. The sun’s rays burst in from the right, illuminating even the smallest parts of the composition and making them clearly visible. The picture's perspective suggests a fairly elevated viewpoint, while the use of light draws on the technique of creating a vast area of shade in the foreground, cast by the palazzi, which rise up along each side of the Grand Canal. The use of different sources of light makes it appear as though there are two opposing suns shining in the sky at once—a device undoubtedly derived from the artist's familiarity with set design.