Catalogue entry

417. [N00543] Morning, Returning from the Ball, St. Martino Exh. 1845


Canvas, 24 1/2 × 36 1/2 (62 × 92·5)

Coll. Painted for Francis McCracken of Belfast but returned to the artist almost certainly by the autumn of 1846 at the latest (see Gage loc. cit. and entries for Nos. 421/2); Turner Bequest 1856 (one of 18–21, 36–40; see No. 383 [N00527]); transferred to the Tate Gallery 1912.

Exh. R.A. 1845 (162); Whitechapel 1953 (98); on loan to Yale University Art Museum, New Haven 1964–7; Dresden (23, repr.) and Berlin (33) 1972; Lisbon 1973 (23, repr.); Hamburg 1976 (105, repr. and colour pl. 24).

Lit. Thornbury 1862, ii, p. 195; 1877, p. 399; Bell 1901, p. 153 no. 252; Armstrong 1902, p. 235; Finberg 1930, pp. 151, 158; Davies 1946, p. 186; Finberg 1961, pp. 407–8, 509 no. 566; Rothenstein and Butlin 1964, p. 66; Gage 1980, pp. 201, 207, 213–14.

Exhibited in 1845 with the caption ‘MS. Fallacies of Hope’. Punch (January–June 1845, p. 236) decided to make good the lack of any actual quotation from the Fallacies of Hope in this instance’, as the picture ‘really seems to need a little explanation’; as Turner 'is too modest to quote the Fallacies of Hope, we will quote it for him:

‘Oh! what a scene! – Can this be Venice? No.
And yet methinks it is—because I see
Amid the lumps of yellow, red, and blue,
Something which looks like a Venetian spire.
That dash of orange in the background there
Bespeaks 'tis Morning! And that little boat
(Almost the colour of Tomata sauce,)
Proclaims them now returning from the ball!
This is my picture, I would fain convey,
I hope I do. Alas! What FALLACY!’

Punch (ibid., p. 233) also commented on the two pictures with two near-featureless drawings entitled ‘Venice by Gaslight—Going to the Ball’ and ‘Venice by Daylight—Returning from the Ball’, both subtitled ‘MS. Fallacies of Hope (An unpublished Poem.)’

See the entry for No. 416 [N00544] for other press criticism of the 1845 pair, and the entry for Nos. 421 and 422 for the early histories of the four Venetian Ball subjects. ‘St. Martino’ seems to have been and invention of Turner's; see Nos. 421–2.

The picture, like a number of other late works, was painted on a double canvas supplied by T. Brown. Before relining it bore the firm's stamp in the form that seems to have come into use in about 1839.

Published in:
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984.