In 1892, at the age of sixty-seven, Boudin traveled to Venice for the first time. Flush with his success that year with the French state's purchase of a painting at the Salon and his receipt of the prestigious Légion d'Honneur, he came to Italy in search of new motifs for his painting. The subject of Venice--from the eighteenth century vedutisti, particularly Canaletto and Guardi, Boudin had made copies of the latter's paintings in the Louvre during the late 1960s, to Turner and Ziem in the nineteenth century--exerted an enduring appeal on artists and collectors. Boudin's vision of the city combined the topographical concerns of Canaletto with his own interest in atmospheric effects.
In Venice, Boudin found an ideal setting for his use of low, broad horizons and expansive skies. In the present painting he punctuates the scene with touches of color to suggest the varried materials of the building facades along the waterway. Boudin painted it from the vantage of the Molo, or pier, in front of the Palazzo Ducale. The huge, domed church of Santa Maria de la Salute, designed by the Venetian Baroque architect Baldasare Longhena (1598-1682), is pictured in the center of the composition.
Inspired by the city, Boudin returned to Venice in the summer of 1894 and again in the summer of 1895. In a letter to Paul Durand-Ruel dated 20 June 1895, the artist wrote: "I am busy painting views of Venice, a superb town as I have no need to tell you, but I am somewhat disgusted by the usual painters of the area who have to some extent disfigured it by making it appear as a region warmed by the hottest sun...Venice on the other hand, like all luminous regions, is grey in color, the atmosphere is soft and misty and the sky is decked with clouds just like over Normandy or Holland" (quoted in J. Selz, Eugène Boudin, Naefels, 1982, p. 85).