Catalogue entry

505. [N02068] Procession of Boats with Distant Smoke, Venice c. 1845


Canvas, 35 1/2 × 47 1/2 (90 × 120·5)

Coll. Turner Bequest 1856; transferred to the Tate Gallery 1906.

Exh. Hamburg, Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen 1949–50 (101); Toronto and Ottawa 1951 (11); Australian tour 1960 (14, repr. in colour); New York 1966 (31); Dresden (3) and Berlin (4) 1972.

Lit. MacColl 1920, p. 36; Davies 1946, p. 185; Rothenstein and Butlin 1964, p. 64, pl. 119.

This was formerly called ‘The Burning of the Ships’, and was identified by MacColl as possibly ‘Some historical scene of naval warfare ... or a vague recollection of the incident in the Iliad, which was the subject of a picture by Claude, or again, of the burning of Æneas' ships by Turnus ... In the foreground to the left are galleys crowded with men.’ However, the subject is more likely to be a Venetian one; c.f. particularly the clusters of boats and gondolas in some of the exhibits of 1844 and 1845 (e.g. Nos. 411 [N00539], 417 [N00544], 421 and 422). The picture seems to date from the mid 1840s and is in Turner's standard 3 ft by 4 ft size, which, however, he abandoned for his exhibited Venetian oils after 1836.

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