The strong cross-hatching, open composition and rounded handling of the foliage in the present work associate it with a pair of drawings for which Constable and Links suggested a date after Canaletto's return to Venice from England in about 1756, W.G. Constable and J.G. Links, op. cit., nos. 766 and 854.
The artist's move to England in 1746 had partly been brought about by the decline in the market for topographical views during the Wars of the Austrian Succession, which had restricted the number of English patrons prepared to make the journey to Venice for pleasure. In England he continued his work as a celebrated painter of views, or vedute, although a number of capricci of the Venetian lagoon and the Veneto can also be dated to this period. These fanciful compositions form the majority of his work after 1756. The paintings and drawings of this type, of which the present work is a fine example, are more thoughtful, even wistful, in tone, a feeling that characterizes the artist's output for the remaining twelve years of his life.
View painting was not considered by the Venetian artistic establishment to be an entirely respectable genre. It is perhaps for this reason that Canaletto was not a founder member of the Accademia Veneziana di Pittura e Scultura, which was officially incorporated in 1756, although he was one of the city's best known painters. He was eventually elected only in 1763, and tellingly his reception piece, now in the Galleria dell' Accademia, Venice, was not one of the views of his native city for which he was famous, but a large scale Capriccio with colonnade, Constable and Links, op. cit., no. 509. It is to this later period of activity, of fanciful compositions rather than views painted directly for the market, that the present work belongs. This move towards the fantastic may have brought the artist back to his earliest work as a scene-painter assisting his father Bernardo in painting theatrical sets for the operas of Vivaldi and Alessandro Scarlatti.
The type of inscription in the lower left corner, Antonio Canaletto del., does not appear on any other surviving work. The tones of the ink, however, may suggest that the final section, etto del., is by another hand.