Joseph Mallord William Turner Study for ‘Venice (The Rialto - Moonlight)’, Rogers’s ‘Poems’ c.1830–2

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Artwork details

Title
Study for ‘Venice (The Rialto - Moonlight)’, Rogers’s ‘Poems’
Date c.1830–2
Medium Graphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensions Support: 168 x 239 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D27625
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 108
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Catalogue entry

This is a preparatory study for the finished watercolour vignette, Venice (The RialtoMoonlight), which was published in the 1834 edition of Rogers’s Poems, as an illustration to a poem entitled ‘Human Life’ (see Tate D27713; Turner Bequest 196). All of the major features of the composition are present in this initial sketch including the Rialto Bridge, the surrounding architecture, the gondolas and their gondoliers.
The style and medium of this sketch are typical of Turner’s preparatory studies for Rogers’s Poems, which tend to be executed in pencil and light watercolour wash. It was formerly part of a parcel of studies described by John Ruskin as ‘A.B. 83. P.R. Studies for Italy. Coarse, but noble’.1 Finberg records how Ruskin later described his phrasing in a letter to Ralph Nicholson Wornum as ‘horrible’, adding ‘I never meant it to be permanent’.2
1
Finberg 1909, vol.II, p.896.
2
Ibid., vol.I, p.xi.
Verso:
Inscribed by unknown hands in pencil ‘CCLXXX 108’ lower right and ‘AB 83 P | R’ lower right

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

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