(b. 1697, Venezia, d. 1768, Venezia)
The Bucintoro Returning to the Molo on Ascension Dayc. 1730
Oil on canvas, 182 x 259 cm
Processions and festivals, ceremonies and regattas - even Gentile Bellini's 15th century paintings bear witness to the brilliant pageantry of La Serenissima. Canaletto not only continues in this tradition, but actually revives it, adding to it his own views and temperament and clothing it in the garb of his own era. Whether he portrays the city's Ascension Day celebrations, the symbolic marriage of Venice with the sea, or the arrival of the Doge: it is no longer with the grand choreography and dignified regularity that dominates Bellini's paintings.
Canaletto executed some paintings for the Imperial ambassador to Venice, Count Bolagnos, recording the ceremony of the presentation of his credentials to the doge in 1729. The resulting two paintings, the Reception of the Ambassador in the Doge's Palace and the Bucintoro Returning to the Molo on Ascension Day, are now in private collection. The latter is considered to be one of Canaletto's highest achievements.