This oil painting on canvas from the collection of British Consul Joseph Smith (1674-1770) is one of the known versions of the Grand Canal in Venice by Canaletto. These vedutas, which were intended to be engraved or taken away by tourists on the Grand Tour, of which Venice was an essential stopover, were very popular in the 18th century. Canaletto strove to reflect the panorama unfolding in front of him with the greatest accuracy, distinguishing himself from other renowned veduta practitioners such as Guardi or Belloto. All the details of scenes from everyday life: an active flotilla of gondolas, palace facades under restoration (with scaffolding in full view) or simple entertainment in the Erberia market square, are illustrated with great care. Over and above its decorative aspect, the treatment of the distinctive light on the Lagoon in this work also makes it a testimony to the subjects’ topography and the passing of time. The monumental palaces are captured with the greatest precision, leaving no room for architectural fantasy, in both the work of Canaletto and that of his successor, Piranesi. Charles de Brosses, known as the “President de Brosses”, who was passing through Venice, referred to the painter’s art in these terms: "His manner is clear, lively, has perspective and is admirably detailed". These glowing remarks describe a delicate, unique way of portraying Venice, revealing its features in the most lifelike style.