A native of Venice, Vincenzo Chilone subscribed to the tradition of vedute painting established by Canaletto. The artist was known for his bold perspectival distortions, which emphasized the grandeur of Venice's sumptuous architecture and are evident throughout his series of twenty-two views engraved by Giacomo Aliprandi in the Album de Venise of c. 1800.
Set against the imposing façade of the Ca' Foscari and Palazzo Balbi on the Grand Canal, the present painting captures the vibrant pageantry and jubilant atmosphere of the annual carnival regatta. This fast-paced one-oared light gondola race had already been immortalized by Canaletto in his Regatta on the Grand Canal (National Gallery, London), although the vantage point here is entirely different.
Encouraged by cheering crowds peering down from nearby balconies (with one particularly charming viewer leaning right across the balustrade in order to secure a better view) the gondoliers weave their way across the lower center of the canvas, navigating through a maze of gilded barges and disappearing from view as they turn the corner to the far right of the composition.
The subject of a recent restitution settlement, ?the present lot once formed part of the important Old Masters collection gathered by the Belfast textile merchant John Jaffé and his wife Anna—a collection which also included Francesco Guardi's The Grand Canal Venice with the Palazzo Bembo (Getty Museum, Los Angeles). Following thirty years in the same private Italian collection, the work is now offered pursuant to a settlement agreement between the consignors and the heirs of John and Anna Jaffé, resolving any dispute over ownership of the work and passing the title directly to the buyer.