This view on the Grand Canal looking north west shows, from the right, the Palazzo Corner della Ca' Grande, designed by Jacopo Sansovino for Jacopo Cornaro after its predecessor was burnt in 1532, and the garden of the Casina delle Rose by the calle of that name; beyond this are the façades Ca' Maurizio and a modest house, followed by further houses and beyond the Rio di Santo Stefano by the Palazzetto Pisani (to the right of which is the Ca' Pisani), by Ca' Benzon Foscolo and the Palazzi Barbaro. Diagonally opposite this is the Campanile of Santa Maria della Carità, beyond which are the Ca' Querini, the Ca' Mocenigo-Gambara, and in the distance partly in shadow the Ca' Contarini degli Scrigni. The façades of the buildings on the left bank are in shadow. On the extreme left is the Ca' da Mula. Beyond this is the Ca' Barbarigo, and the Campo San Vio (the viewpoint of a series of masterpieces by the artist). Across the Rio San Vio, the first bay of its east façade caught in sunlight, is the Ca' Loredan (now Cini), followed by the Ca' Molin or Balbi-Venier, the Ca' Paradiso, the impressive Ca' Contarini del Zaffo and, just to the east of the campanile, the Ca' Brandolini-Rota.
Constable, who catalogued this canvas as a 'version' of the related
picture at Woburn, states that it differs from this 'mainly in the
foreground boats, which include, left to right, a barge with an awning, a gondola, a small rowing-boat, another gondola and a sandalo.' He
comments that the barge in front of the Ca' Corner 'is the same in both paintings.' All the other boats in the Brand picture are original to
this. What Constable did not comment upon is the very assured way in
which the topography is calibrated. Canaletto must have come to
recognise that the campanile had been insufficiently dominant in the
Woburn picture. The viewpoint is subtly changed by a degree or two, so that the campanile is perceptibly further from the left side of the
composition and is now, correctly, shown as taller than the Palazzi
Barbaro and the main block of the Ca' Pisani, set back from the Canal. In this respect it is the Brand, rather than the Bedford picture, that is closer to the sketches in the Accademia sketchbook (Constable,
Sketchbooks, 14r, 12v, 13r, 11v, 12r, 10v and 11r, pl. 163) on which
the composition was clearly based; and the authority of the Brand
picture is decisively confirmed by the fact that this rather than that at Woburn, was engraved for the second part of Antonio Visentini's
Prospectus Magnis Canalis Venetiarum.
Like the view of the Libreria, this picture was a source of inspiration to Canaletto's nephew, Bernardo Bellotto. His variant (J.G. Links, A Supplement to W.G. Constable's Canaletto, London, 1998, pp. 20-1, no. 193, as Canaletto), first published in the catalogue of the sale in
these Rooms, 3 July 1985, no. 60 as by Canaletto, was generally
recognised as by the nephew in the early 1990s; Bellotto's drawing for the composition is in Darmstadt (Bleyl, no. 11). That picture is among the most accomplished of Bellotto's early repetitions of Canaletto compositions, executed at greater speed and with less refinement than
the uncle's meticulously controlled prototypes, but with an
admirable fluency. When Bellotto's canvas surfaced it was wrongly
assumed that this rather than the as yet published Brand picture was
the prototype of Visentini's engraving.
Constable records two further variants of the composition: one from the collection of King William II of Holland and Count zu Weid, which he regarded as a 'School piece'; and another in the possession of Simon
Towneley, his description of which suggests that the campanile is shown as in the Brand composition, and which may therefore have depended on
this work, or on the print after this.