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Turner's visit to Venice in 1840 resulted in some of his most atmospheric watercolours. His limpid washes vividly capture the unique qualities of flickering and reflected light found in the city. Ruskin recognised that Venice held a special place in Turner's affections, claiming that 'The Alps brought him always sadness, but Venice delight'. It is unlikley, however, that Ruskin would have known any of these sketches before Turner's death. While in Venice in 1845, he wondered whether Turner could be persuaded to make him a finished watercolour view of the city: 'his ideal of it is superb - it makes me quite pine for it here, that I may feel it more. Venice itself is now nothing, barring always fishing boats'.

August 2004