Giovanni Antonio Canaletto, The Doge of Venice Departing for the Lido, a drawing

Venice, Italy, around AD 1763-67

In the centre of the drawing is an immense barge. The Venetian Doge (ruler) and senators sit under cover on the top deck while the barge is driven by banks of oars rowed by slaves or state prisoners. The elaborately carved and gilded barge has a figurehead of Justice and a mast from which flies a banner with the winged lion of St Mark, the patron of the city.

Each Ascension Day the Doge crossed the Venetian Lagoon to the entrance of the sea. He travelled in the splendid state barge, called the Bucintoro, to perform a special ceremony, the Marriage with the Sea, when the Doge dropped a gold ring into the sea. This symbolic act marked Venice's intimate relationship and dependence on the sea for her trade and wealth.

This is one of four drawings from The British Museum which are from a series of ten highly finished studies showing Ducal ceremonies and festivals. These drawings were probably made specifically to be engraved by the Venetian printmaker Brustoloni.

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More information


J. Rowlands, Master drawings and watercolou (London, The British Museum Press, 1984)

W.G. Constable (revised by J.G. Links), Canaletto: Giovanni Antonio Ca, 2nd ed. (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1989)


Height: 390.000 mm
Width: 550.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1910-2-12-19


Bequeathed by George Salting


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