Piper had first drawn in Venice in the spring of 1959, for a commission from the Arthur Jeffress Gallery in London. He then regularly made paintings and drawings of the city, and drew illustrations for an edition of Adrian Stokes's book Venice.
Piper had always admired the writing of John Ruskin, who had affected his art more than any other critic. He used the surface of this lithograph to imitate the unexpected dazzle of light from the façade of St Mark's Cathedral. This fascination combines Ruskin's interest in the variety of weather and in The Stones of Venice.