(b. 1697, Venezia, d. 1768, Venezia)
Palazzo Ducale and the Piazza di San Marcoc. 1755
Oil on canvas, 51 x 83 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
This view of the Wharf and the Riva degli Schiavoni taken from the Docks of San Marco, which from the Zecca and the Libreria Vecchia embraces the Ducal Palace and the Prisons as far as the Palazzo Dandolo (now the Albergo Danieli), is one which Canaletto repeated many times. Today we know of more than ten autograph versions, the most important of which are those showing the departure or arrival of the Bucintaur in the foreground instead of the ordinary plying of boats, as here.
It is highly likely that for this composition Canaletto used the "optical camera", an instrument which facilitated the control of perspective in such a wide and "unnatural" field of vision. The stamp of naturalness is produced in any case by the immediacy of the boatmen's movements and by the temporary balance created by the boats crossing.