Pritchett developed a deep knowledge of Venice, which allowed him to recreate it so vividly. Far from being merely topographical, his paintings capture the essence of the picturesque city, with its crumbling stonework, vivacious locals, and bustle of commerce. The present work depicts Venice as a center of trade, humming with life and the exchange of goods, as it has for centuries. In this scene, fishermen and merchants go about their daily business at the entrance to the Grand Canal. Amidst the fast pace of this commercial hub, the architectural splendor appears timeless. This sun-lit view also depicts the Dogana di Mare, or Sea Customs Post, before the radiant domes of Santa Maria della Salute. The Dogana stretches to the tip of the Dorsoduro where arriving cargo ships from East and West would be inspected by customs officials. The original fourteenth-century watch tower was replaced in 1690 by the present colonnaded Dogana. The buttressed square tower is crowned by a gilded globe supported by a pair of bronze crouching Atlases, on top of which a statue of the Goddess Fortuna dances, acting as a weathervane holding her gilded sail to the wind. Dominating the composition is the Santa Maria della Salute, immediately recognizable in its Baroque grandeur against the late afternoon sky. In 1630, following the devastating loss of nearly a third of the population from the plague, the Venetian Senate decided to build a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the protector of the Republic. This was a gesture of thanks for sparing the lives that she did. Since its completion in 1682, the church has become an icon of the floating city.
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