Abraham Storck specialised in painting port scenes, combining shipping with architectural capricci. This Venetian ‘fantasy’ must be considered as one of his finest paintings. Storck has arranged the famous landmarks of Venice to provide a backdrop for his figures and Dutch merchant vessels. His compositions were often capriccio views filled with a golden Mediterranean light, and, in this unusual arrangement, the Doge’s Palace, the Campanile and the Basilica are loaded with a wealth of detail and movement of light.
A preparatory drawing for this panel is dated 1678 and is in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Perhaps the patron was a wealthy Dutch merchant who imported cloth and spices from the Near East and desired a painting of his ships and workers en route through Venice.