“Bucentaur’s return to the pier by the Palazzo Ducale” by Canaletto is a veduta (Italian for “view”) meaning a highly detailed, usually large-scale painting of a cityscape or some other vista. This vendute painting depicts the Doge’s golden vessel, the Buccentoro returning to the pier during an important Venetian Festival.
The busy canal with gondolas crowding in on the festival is contrasted with the splendour of Venice. In exquisite detail, we can see St Mark’s Cathedral, the arcades of St Mark’s library, the gothic lace of the Doge’s palace, the long granite columns and the palazzos.
The annual festival depicted in this and many other Canaletto paintings is held on Ascension Day when ancient tradition requires the Venetian Doge to sail to the Adriatic Sea and toss a gold ring into the sea as a symbol of the union of Venice and the sea. This tradition ensured the prosperity of the City of Venice and her fleet. The journey began and ended by the Dodge’s Palace and St Mark’s Cathedral. This painting captures the end of that journey.
This famous Canaletto is a typical example of the vedute paintings popular with Grand Tour travellers of the 1700’s as a visual record of their travels. Canaletto was one of the more famous painters of city views or vedute, especially of Venice.
Many of Canaletto’s paintings can be found in museums across the world, depict highly detailed, usually large-scale paintings of Venetian other famous cityscapes or vistas. My favourite Canaletto’s include:
- A Regatta on the Grand Canal seen from Ca Foscari, c. 1740 – National Gallery, London
- The Entrance to the Grand Canal, Venice, c. 1730 – Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
- Return of the Bucintoro to the Molo on Ascension Day, 1729–32 – Pushkin Museum
- Piazza San Marco with the Basilica, Venice, 1730 -1734 – Fogg Museum
- Bucentaur’s return to the pier by the Palazzo Ducale, 1727 – 1729, Pushkin Museum
- Reception for the French Consul in Venice, St Petersburg State Heritage
- Title: Bucentaur’s return to the pier by the Palazzo Ducale
- Artist: Canaletto
- Year: 1727 – 1729
- Medium: Oil on canvas
- Dimensions H: 1,820 mm (71.65 in). W: 2,590 mm (101.97 in).
- Museum: Pushkin Museum
Artist Essential Facts:
- Name: Giovanni Antonio Canal (Canaletto)
- Born: 1697 – Venice, Republic of Venice
- Died: 1768 (aged 70) – Venice, Republic of Venice (now Italy)
- Nationality: Venetian
- Notable works:
“There is something so different in, Venice from any other place in, the world, that you leave at, once all accustomed habits and, everyday sights to enter an, enchanted garden.” Mary Shelley
Photo Credits: 1)Canaletto [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons