I believe that evidence of Ruskin’s admiration for this particular Venetian scene is contained in his commentary in the catalogue to an exhibition of works by Prout and William Henry Hunt held at The Fine Art Society in 1879-80.
It was exhibit number 60 – on loan from Lord Coleridge, who became Lord Chief Justice of England around this time.
The commentary goes into specific detail regarding the key elements of Prout’s composition such that it seems certain he is critiquing this work. Ruskin attributes Prout’s compositional success in ‘the great drawing’ to various framing devices used to help focus our attention on the palace, namely a gentle linear curve of detail commencing with the effect of a single boat-spar to the left, passing to a central standing figure beneath the central window and then moving onwards to ‘the sitting figures and levelled sails in harmony with the courses of the palace, and to the left, with the boats’.
In 1844, Ruskin wrote ‘sometimes I tire of Turner but never of Prout’. Though times and tastes change, Prout at his best remains a very fine artist.
I’d be grateful if any reader is able to shed light on the provenance. The work came from the estate of the late Mr Ronald Marshall Brooks and was perhaps bought or inherited by his wife in the 1970s.