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‘Venice was surely built to be painted by ... Turner’, wrote the critic of the Art Union when he first saw this work in 1842. Unlike his paintings of Rome, Turner’s impression of the city was not dominated by ancient ruins and the historical past. Instead he explored Venice’s unique combination of water, light and grand Renaissance architecture, all of which seem to blend together. Here he is transfixed by the spectacle of the churches of Santa Maria della Salute and Santa Maria della Presentazione, known as the ‘Zitelle’ (or Citella), reflected in the waters of the Guidecca Canal.

February 2010