This is a view of the late 16th-century façade of the church of S. Pietro in Castello, which was until 1807 the cathedral church of Venice; after that date this distinction was passed to S. Marco. The building between the church and its campanile is the patriarchal palace, and the arms surmounting the third window are those of the Patriarch Lorenzo Priuli (died 1601). On the right can be seen the Ponte di S. Pietro.
The painting entered the National Gallery’s collection in 1879, as part of the Henderson Bequest, together with another view by Canaletto (‘Venice: Entrance to the Cannaregio’). The two pictures are of similar size and were long considered pendants, but the difference in figure scale suggests that Canaletto did not conceive them as a pair.
The composition is broadly based upon a drawing by Canaletto (Windsor, Royal Collection), though the disposition of boats and figures is different.