The painting, together with five other views of the Piazza San Marco and the Piazzetta, forms part of a series commissioned from Canaletto by Consul Joseph Smith, who was the artist's most loyal patron. Smith, a merchant who lived in Venice, was not only an avid collector of Canaletto's work, but also arranged for the artist's paintings to be engraved and introduced him to potential clients. His collection, which included an incomparable group of paintings, drawings and prints by Canaletto, was sold to George III in 1762.
The early views of the Piazza San Marco and the Piazzetta, dating from before 1730, comprise four vertical compositions and two of horizontal format. Conceived as a series, it is almost certain that they were hung in one of the rooms in the Palazzo Mangilli-Valmarana on the Grand Canal where Smith lived. Only two of the paintings look out from the Piazzetta. The present example shows the view across the entrance to the Grand Canal with the Baroque church of Santa Maria della Salute, designed by Baldassare Longhena, and the Dogana in the background.
Canaletto has made several major adjustments in the disposition of the proportions of the buildings and other architectural motifs. The placing of the column of San Teodoro has been altered and its height has been increased. The steps of the bridge, the Ponte della Pescheria, by the Biblioteca Marciana have been brought forward. Similarly, on the other side of the Grand Canal, the Dogana is positioned in too close proximity to the Salute. Comparison with the preparatory drawing (Royal Library, Windsor Castle) shows that Canaletto originally included the column of San Marco on the left of the composition, but in the painting he omitted this in favour of a boat and instead inserted the column of San Teodoro by the Biblioteca Marciana. The balance of the composition is, therefore, heavily weighted to the right. These alterations to the spatial intervals and the amalgamation of viewpoints are highly characteristic of Canaletto's working methods. Such shifts of emphasis also confirm the likelihood that the paintings were made for a specific setting and that the compositions were closely discussed with the patron. Several changes (including the painting out of the column of San Marco) are visible to the naked eye. The paint is freely handled throughout, especially with regard to the figures in the lower right comer. The use made of mathematical instruments, mainly for drawing the outlines of buildings, is also apparent. The chiaroscural treatment of the light and the silhouetting of the buildings against the sky are the basis of the drama that characterises Canaletto's early style, especially in the paintings done for Consul Smith.
The attribution of this painting to Friedrich is not undisputed. It is possible that the picture stems from the hand of a student friend in Copenhagen and that Friedrich gave it to relatives in Neubrandenburg, in whose possession it is later recorded.
Precisely when Friedrich first experimented in oils remains the subject of dispute. Even if we attribute to him the Wreck in the Sea of Ice this must remain an isolated tentative attempt, since sepia drawings subsequently continue to dominate his output.
The present decoration of the Sala del Maggior Consiglio (Hall of the Great Council) in the Palazzo Ducale was realized after the disastrous fire of 1577 during which all the structures of the ship's-keel Gothic ceiling and the wall-paintings were destroyed. An immense flat ceiling, in accordance with the taste of the end of the century, was constructed with gilded cornices sculpted in high-relief, which framed a series of paintings. The canvases were dedicated, thematically, to the Glorification of Venice, in remembrance of the numerous military undertakings in the East or on the mainland by the Venetian ground troops. On the ceiling great importance was given to the victories of the Venetian army in conquering the mainland; along the wall to the dispute between Alexander III and Frederick Barbarossa, who reached an agreement in Venice with the political mediation of Doge Sebastiano Ziani; and to the events of the Fourth Crusade, led by Doge Enrico Dandolo in the early years of the 13th century.
Tintoretto's Defence of Brescia is one of the thirty five panels on the ceiling of the Sala del Maggior Consiglio.
The story in the New Testament says that King Herod took Peter prisoner and intended to have him killed. In prison the Apostle was chained to two guards, but an angel of the Lord freed him despite the close watch. The fresco is dated 1514 on two painted tablets in the picture.
The composition of this fresco clearly reflects the order and unity of the Mass of Bolsena. But the story is broken down into three distinct episodes, taken from the Acts of the Apostles. The first shows the dismay of the guards; the second the appearance of the Angel of Freedom in the saint's cell; the third, the bewildered Peter led by the hand of the divine messenger. The barred cell is on an upper level (like the altar in the Mass) and is reached by steps to the left and right. A group of agitated figures occupies the stairway at the left. Here, a soldier - whose armor reflects the light of the moon asks his sleepy and bewildered comrades what is going on. At right, the angel leads the stunned and still-sleepy St Peter past another sleeping guard. Here, for the first time, Raphael attempts a "night effect", using both the natural light of the moon and the autonomous light of the angel.
Raphael's assistants played a greater role in painting the Eliodoro cycle than in the Stanza della Segnatura. This is clearly a consequence of the growing number of commissions which the Romans granted to Raphael. The hand of Giulio Romano, one of his most faithful pupils, is visible in the episode showing the Liberation of St Peter.
This painting is the last fresco that can be attributed to Raphael with any certainty. The large cycles which follow (except for the Sibyls of Santa Maria della Pace) were entrusted mainly to assistants.
Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 21 minutes):Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina: Missa Brevis (Tu es Petrus)
After the death of his father following a pistol duel in December 1757, aged thirty-five, David was placed successively in the care of two uncles, François Buron (1731-1818) and Jacques-Francois Desmaisons (c. 1720-1789), who were both architects and building contractors.