This picture records the fête held in May 1745 at the residence of the French Ambassador to the Venetian Republic, Pierre-François, comte de Montaigu on the occasion of the marriage of Louis, Dauphin of France to his cousin Maria Teresa Raphaella, daughter of King Philip V of Spain. On the right is the Palazzo Surian, which served as the French embassy for much of the century. In front of this a large temporary structure has been constructed over the Canareggio canal: Venetian acrobats perform in front of this; on the opposite, east, side of the canal is a further temporary pavilion. Spectators line the temporary balustraded terraces on either bank and the bridge that links these, while the ambassador and his family watch from the balcony of the piano nobile of the palazzo. That the marriage was celebrated in so spectacular and extravagant a way suggests the importance attached by Montaigu to his country's relationship with Venice.
The comte de Montaigu had been appointed ambassador in 1743, but was to return to France in 1746. It seems likely that he employed the Venetian architect Antonio Visentini to design the temporary decorations, and the possibility that Visentini was associated with the production of this picture should not be discounted. Before the emergence of this canvas the composition was known from a variant published by Lionel Cust ('"A Fete at Venice in 1747", attributed to Antonio Canale', The Burlington Magazine, XXIV, June 1914, pp. 174-5: we are indebted to Charles Beddington for this reference) and exhibited in Florence in 1922: this is wrongly identified as of the fête on the occasion of the Dauphin's second marriage, to Maria-Josepha of Saxony, on 2 December 1747, by when Montaigu was no longer en poste. The attribution of the other version to Canaletto was correctly rejected by Constable (W.G. Constable, Canaletto, Oxford, 1962, II, p. 346, no. 357) who catalogued it as of the school of Canaletto. Charles Beddington on the basis of a photograph suggested that the present picture may be by Antonio Diziani, and an attribution to Francesco Battaglioli has also been suggested. The painter was evidently aware of Marieschi, who had died in 1743, but whose tradition was maintained by Francesco Albotto and others.