The church of Santa Maria della Salute was constructed as a votive offering to the Virgin Mary to end the plague of 1630 that killed about a third of the Venetian population. Built by Baldassare Longhena between 1631 and 1637, the Salute stands at the opening of the Grand Canal near Piazza San Marco and is one of the most recognizable buildings of the Venetian skyline. Every year on November 21, the feast day of the Presentation of the Virgin, the doge and his coterie would make an annual visit in thanksgiving for this deliverance. The celebrations of doge Alviso Mocenigo IV (1763–78) were recorded by Francesco Guardi as one of twelve paintings commissioned to commemorate the new leader’s election. Numerous other artists have taken inspiration from the building, including Canaletto, J. M. W. Turner, and John Singer Sargent.
Baldassare Longhena, Santa Maria della Salute. Photo: Jakub Hałun, 2011.
Francesco Guardi, The Doge of Venice at Santa Maria della Salute Commemorating the End of the 1630 Plague, ca. 1775-80. Paris; Musée du Louvre, INV. 320.
Canaletto, The Grand Canal and the Church of the Salute, 1730, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Robert Lee Blaffer Memorial Collection, Gift of Sarah Campbell Blaffer
Joseph Mallord William Turner, Venice with the Salute, c.1840-5. Tate, London: Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856.
Joseph Mallord William Turner, The Grand Canal by the Salute, c.1840. National Galleries, Scotland: D NG 888.
John Singer Sargent, The Salute, Venice, ca. 1904-7. Yale University Art Gallery: Christian A. Zabriskie Fund, 1971.81.