Stanhope Alexander Forbes was born in Dublin, the son of a railway manager and a French mother. He studied at Lambeth School of Art; the Royal Academy Schools between 1874-8; then for two years in Paris under Leon Bonnat. He was certainly influenced by the work of Jules Bastien-Lepage and painted in Brittany with H.H. La Thangue in the early 1880s. Forbes began exhibiting at the Royal Academy in 1878 and was created an Associate in 1892.
In a talk given in 1892 or 1894, Forbes argued that it is interpretation that will elevate any subjects into works of art, 'For beauty lies as much in the light, the atmosphere which surrounds all things, as in their actual form and fashion. There is nothing which cannot be transformed by the effect under which it is seen' (see C. Fox and F. Greenacre, Exhibition catalogue, Artists of the Newlyn School 1880-1900, Newlyn Orion Galleries, 1979, pp. 53-68). In the present work Forbes has evoked the effects of the Venetian light on the canals and architecture. This is a technique used by Forbes in his other Venetian views, see A Venetian Gateway (Christie's, London, 8 June 1989, lot 7) and Santa Maria della Salute, Venice (Christie's, London, 5 March 1987, lot 57).