The present work depicts the departure of the Bucintoro from San Marco to San Nicoló del Lido during the celebrations for the Ascension (the Sensa for the Venetians) and is one of the most significant known works by the Venetian vedutista Francesco Zanin. After his death Francesco Zanin fell into obscurity and has only recently been recovered, particularly thanks to Fabrizio Magani’s book Francesco Zanin. Un 'Canaletto' nell’Ottocento (Milan, 2008).
The present work depicts the first phase of the celebration of the Ascension in Venice when the Doge's ceremonial vessel, the Bucintoro, escorted by a myriad of gondolas belonging to the patrician families and to the ambassadors of the Republic, sailed towards the harbour of San Nicoló del Lido. There the ritual of the marriage between Venice and the sea – the main source of wealth for the city - took place. Portraying this phase of the celebration are many paintings of the most renowned eighteenth century vedutisti from Veneto, from Carlevarijs to Canaletto to Francesco Guardi.
In The Departure of the Bucintoro from San Marco to San Nicoló del Lido, Zanin depicts the colourful massing of the crowd on the Paglia harbour and along the wharf. The crowd, the flotilla of gondolas and the wonderful architectural elements which work as a beautiful setting for the celebration, all serve to show off Zanin's masterful style.