This view, taken from the Fondamenta S. Simone, shows, on the other side of the Grand Canal, the church of S. Maria di Nazareth, known as the Scalzi. The site was purchased by the Carmelite order circa 1646 and the church, begun by Baldassare Longhena, was built between 1660 and 1689, but not consecrated until 1705: the façade of 1683-4, so characteristic of the Venetian baroque, was designed by Giuseppe Sardi (d. 1699), the Luganese architect-cum-engineer who was strongly influenced by Longhena. The buildings to the left (west) of the church, the Palazzi Barzisa and Bragadin would be cleared to make way for the railway station. To the east of the church is the Rio di Spagna, a canal filled in later in the eighteenth century and now the Lista di Spagna, and, to the right of this a succession of minor houses west of the Palazzo Calbo - Crotta, once Soranzo.
Morassi (1975 I, pp. 250 and 420) characterises this picture as being 'tutta tremula e vibrate', a work of 'qualità stupenda' and like its pendant as a 'capolavoro dell' ultimo periodo'. It is the only known example of the composition, but related views from the same point extended further to the left, to include the façade of the church of S. Lucia looking west, are respectively in the Akademie der Bildenden Künste at Vienna and in the Thyssen Collection (Morassi, 1973, nos. 584 and 585, figs. 557 and 555 respectively). The Vienna picture, which measures 63 x 89 cm. and the Thyssen example, which at 48 x 78 cm. is similar in size to the present work, are both paired with views of S. Simone Piccolo and S. Lucia, taken from a viewpoint at or near the mouth of the Rio di Spagna (op. cit., nos. 578 and 580, figs. 556 and 553 respectively). A third signed version of the composition is in an English private collection: the boats differ in all versions, but those in the present canvas are similar in arrangement, and in some cases in detail, to their counterparts in the Thyssen version, in which, however, three rather than two gondolas are drawn up at what was clearly a fixed crossing point on the right.
This picture, which may well be the earliest of the four, was based on a drawing now in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris (fig. 1) (Morassi, 1975, no. 387, fig. 388), while the others depend on the related sheet, now divided between the H.E. Ten Cate Collection and the Courtauld Institute, Princes Gate Collection (op. cit., nos. 386 and 388, figs. 389 and 390), the shipping in which is followed closely in the Thyssen picture, which may therefore have preceded the larger Vienna work. There are some surprising, if small, topographical discrepancies between the two compositions: the prominent chimney on the house in shadow to the right of the Rio di Spagna -- which appears in the Paris drawing and in this picture -- is omitted from both the Ten Cate drawing and the three wider views; while there are similar distinctions between the chimneys of the palace to the right of the church in the two compositions. Guardi may well have known the compositionally comparable View of the Grand Canal with S. Lucia and the Scalzi at Glasgow (W.G. Constable, Canaletto, Giovanni Antonio Canal, 1697-1768, Oxford, I, 1962, p. 321, no. 265, pl. 53 as School of Canaletto), which Charles Beddington (oral communication) considers to be by the Langmatt Master, hypothetically identifiable as Apollonio [Do]menichi.