In this dramatically-lit view, the imposing dome of Venice’s church of Santa Maria della Salute emerges out of a violet haze that slowly burns away in the morning sun. The rising light spreading across the rooftops at right illuminates a patch of clear blue sky and a jade-green expanse of water, catches the upper mast and rigging of an unmanned ship, and reveals the Moorish windows, lemon-pink stone, and bluish awnings of the facades along the south side of the Grand Canal. Though the day has only just awakened and a sense of stillness and quiet pervades the scene, a few early risers, depicted with Caffi’s typically spirited touch, can already be seen moving about: a barely distinguishable figure appears on a balcony at left while a gondolier ferries his boat and a passenger across the Canal in the distance. At center, several men move about a group of ships that seem to be lashed together, which are heavily laden down with some type of merchandise being carried into the harbor.
The greatest Italian vedutista of the first half of the 19th century, Ippolito Caffi was born in Belluno and attended the Accademia di Belle Art in Venice. He traveled extensively throughout Italy and also visited Greece, Syria, Turket, and Egypt, always imbuing his vistas with a sense of romantic admiration and wonderment. A stirring and poetic example of his talents, the present canvas attests to Caffi’s masterful observation of the fleeting effects of light, virtuoso approach to depicting atmosphere and depth, and meticulous attention to the rendering of architecture, all of which distinguish his works among those of the other artistic heirs of Canaletto.