The first flight of a manned balloon took place in Paris in autumn 1783. Within a few months, crowds gathered in Venice to watch as Count Francesco Zambeccari ascended in a balloon launched from a platform in the Bacino di San Marco. This momentous event was depicted by Guardi in the present drawing and in a closely related painting, now in Berlin. Both images depict the spectacle from beneath the portico of the Dogana da Mar, on the Grand Canal. The domed churches in the distance are S. Giorgio Maggiore and the Zitelle.