The Grand Canal in the XVIIIe century

The Grand Canal in the XVIII<sup>e</sup> century

  • Entrance to the Grand Canal and the Church of the Salute in Venice

    MARIESCHI Michele (1710 - 1743)

  • View of the Salute

    GUARDI Francesco (1712 - 1793)

To close

Title: Entrance to the Grand Canal and the Church of the Salute in Venice

Author : MARIESCHI Michele (1710 - 1743)

Creation date : 1740 -

Date shown: 1740

Dimensions: Height 125 cm - Width 213 cm

Storage location: Louvre Museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: RMN-Grand Palais (Louvre museum) / Gérard Blot

Picture reference: 07-515901 / INV162

Entrance to the Grand Canal and the Church of the Salute in Venice

© RMN-Grand Palais (Louvre museum) / Gérard Blot

© RMN-Grand Palais (Louvre museum) / Jean-Gilles Berizzi

Publication date: December 2018

Academy Inspector Deputy Academic Director

Historical context

Vedutism for vocation

Michele Marieschi (1710-1743) and Francesco Guardi (1712-1793) are two illustrious representatives of Venetian Vedutism of the XVIIIe century. Specialized in veduta, that is to say in the most faithful representation possible - at least in appearance - of a view of Venice, they have painted on numerous occasions the monuments and the perspectives of the lagoon city, contributing thus supplying a market highly prized by visitors and followers of the Italian “grand tour”, during which privileged young Europeans took advantage of the peninsula's rich heritage. True to his habit of entrusting the painting of the characters in his canvases to other painters, Marieschi depicts the Grand Canal and the Basilica of La Salute in the early 1740s and uses Antonio Guardi’s brush for the characters. Its more blurred outline allows this work to be attributed to the last period of his life, during which the outlines fade in favor of a stronger pictorial poetry.

Sant Maria della Salute, nicknamed the Salute, indeed strongly inspired the vedutists in the 18th century.e century. Guardi himself delivers several versions of this view, including a wider shot, embracing the entirety of Dorsodura Point.

Image Analysis

Two visions of Salute

The two painters chose to represent the Salute from the Grand Canal, highlighting the esplanade located to the north serving as the church square. Marieschi widens his perspective to the east, towards the basin of San Marco, seen in the background, and locates the spectator on the same bank as the Salute, on the other side of the Rio della Salute (while bottom right of the canvas), while Guardi preferred to stand on the opposite bank, probably at the end of the Mole, while tightening the perspective on the Salute.

Built in the XVIIe century following a wish of the Venetians during a severe plague epidemic (1630-1631), the votive basilica of Santa Maria della Salute was designed by the architect Longhena. A powerful dome rests on an octagonal base, echoing the crown of the Virgin to which the basilica is dedicated. The volute buttresses of the drum make the church recognizable among all. At the top of the dome, a statue of the Virgin surmounts the lantern and brandishes a sea captain's staff; it overlooks a series of statues. The second dome, smaller and seen behind the large dome on each of the paintings, is surmounted by a statue of Saint Mark, patron of the city. Two bell towers stand at the back of the building - one can be seen in both paintings - while a flight of steps, particularly visible at Marieschi, provides access to the entrance, facing the Grand Canal. .

The concentration of boats on the Marieschi canvas corresponds to the location of the Customs of the Sea, located at the end of the spit of land formed by the Dorsodura district. The Venetians had indeed established a quay and a building there (this one dates from the second half of the 17th century).e century) where the grant was paid. In Marieschi's canvas, the customs wall appears as an extension of the perspective of the quay, orange in color, while it is located to the left in Guardi's. Between this wall and the basilica stands the college desired by the congregation of the Somascan fathers, to whom the management of the church had been entrusted, and due to the same architect Longhena.

The traffic on the Grand Canal is less dense with Guardi but his interpretation seems less steep and leaves more room for these busy little silhouettes marked by a hint of red which gives a soul to the scene.


Twilight Venetian Splendours

De Marieschi, active at the beginning of the second third of the XVIIIe century, to Francesco Guardi, that his long life led to the twilight of the Republic of Venice - eliminated by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1797 - is the story of the XVIIIe Venetian century which seems summed up. Marieschi paints the Salute in all its splendor, dominating an active Grand Canal, a veritable vital artery of Venice and receptacle of Mediterranean trade that has come to converge towards the customs of the sea. Guardi gives a more personal vision of it, almost imprinted with a nostalgia heralding the romanticism. Traffic on the Grand Canal is rarer there, perhaps testifying to the commercial decline of the city of the Doges in favor of Atlantic traffic.

It is at a monument of the XVIIe century, the consequence of a wish formulated by the Venetians during a severe epidemic of plague, that the two painters pay a fine homage. In doing so, they help to fix the views of Venice in the European imagination from the Age of Enlightenment, that of a city between sky, land and sea frozen in an unchanging splendor. They also underline the past power of the Serenissima, capable of building in the same architectural impetus the Salute, the college which adjoins it and the customs of the sea. They finally participate in the work of reciprocal influences which irrigate the artistic production of Venice in the XVIIIe century, each Vedutist finding in the work of his colleagues a source of inspiration.

  • Venice
  • Italy
  • Veduta
  • churches
  • Basilica
  • boat
  • granting
  • customs
  • Bonaparte (Napoleon)
  • monuments
  • Grand Canal
  • plague
  • dome
  • worship of the virgin
  • channel


COLLECTIVE, Dazzling Venice: Venice, the Arts and Europe in the 18th Century, Paris, Meeting of National Museums, 2018.

KOWALCZYK Bozena Anna (dir.), Canaletto-Guardi: the two masters of Venice, Paris, Jacquemart-André museum / Institut de France, 2012.

PEDROCCO Filippo, Views of Venice from Carpaccio to Canaletto, Paris, Citadelles and Mazenod, 2002.

PEDROCCO Filippo, Painters of Venice the Serene, Paris, Citadelles and Mazenod, 2010.

SCARPA Annalisa, Venice in the time of Canaletto, Paris, Gallimard, Special discoveries, 2012.

To cite this article

Jean HUBAC, "The Grand Canal in the XVIIIe century "


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