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The Bucentaur was the state barge of the doge of Venice. Several vessels were built for this purpose over the years, and this one, the most magnificent, made its maiden voyage on Ascension Day, 1729. A two-deck floating palace some 35 m (115 ft) long, its main salon had a seating capacity of 90; the doge's throne was in the stern, and the prow bore a figurehead representing Justice with sword and scales. When Napoleon ordered the destruction of the ship in 1798 to symbolize his victory in conquering the Venetian Republic, the vessel burned for three days, and French soldiers used 400 mules to carry away the gold.

This picture is an oil-on-canvas painting by Italian artist Canaletto, showing the Bucentaur on the Venetian Lagoon with various other vessels, returning to the pier following the Marriage of the Sea ceremony on Ascension Day. St Mark's Campanile and the Doge's Palace are visible in the background. The work is now in the collection of the Pushkin Museum in Moscow.Painting credit: Canaletto