(b. 1697, Venezia, d. 1768, Venezia)
The Prisons and the Bridge of Sighs1747-49
Oil on canvas, 47 x 77 cm
Most likely completed in England in the late 1740s and rendered with the artist's customary attention to detail, this painting offers waterfront view of one of the most recognizable façades in La Serenissima: the Prisons of San Marco with the Bridge of Sighs.
The public prisons of San Marco (Palazzo delle Prigioni), are among the most prominent buildings on the Venetian Molo. Around 1580, after a fire had destroyed the original prisons in the Doge's Palace, Antonio da Ponte was chosen to oversee their reconstruction and worked from the original designs of Antonio Palladio's contemporary, Giovanni Antonio Rusconi. Da Ponte's nephew, Antonio Contin, helped oversee the last years of construction and also built the Bridge of Sighs, which connected the prison to the Doge's Palace, both of which are visible in the present painting. The prisons included quarters for the nocturnal security police, a wing for women, cells for victims of the Inquisition, an infirmary and a chapel.