Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace), Venice, from near the Ponte della Paglia, with the Piazzetta and Santa Maria della Salute Beyond

1819

View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 112 x 185 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D14414
Turner Bequest CLXXV 52 a

Catalogue entry

The drawing is inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation. Finberg subsequently amended his 1909 Inventory entry (‘The Ducal Palace, the Zecca, and the Salute’): ‘with the Salute beyond’.1 The Turner scholar C.F. Bell marked another copy: ‘from the foot of the Ponte della Paglia’.2 Bell similarly annotated Finberg’s more detailed 1930 In Venice with Turner entry.3
Looking west-south-west from the Riva degli Schiavoni, Turner shows the south front of the Doge’s Palace on the right, with the steps of the Ponte della Paglia in the bottom right corner,4 looking along the Molo to the columns at the entrance to the Piazzetta. Across the mouth of the Grand Canal on the left are the domes of Santa Maria della Salute.
As was his frequent practice, Turner has recorded only as many of a series of repeated architectural elements as required to infer the rest, here showing the first few arches of the ground floor along the Molo. There are seventeen in all, the nearest five being blocked up at that time, as seen for example in Canaletto’s painting from the late 1730s, Venice: The Doge’s Palace and the Riva degli Schiavoni (National Gallery, London). Hence the ‘17’ and ’12 o’ inscribed at that point, with the ‘o’ presumably indicating those that were open. Likewise, only two of the windows of the first arcade are shown, with the tracery of the quatrefoil roundels between not even indicated. Turner recorded similar elements on the building’s Piazzetta façade in more detail on folio 46 verso (D14402). On the Molo front there are thirty-five of the quatrefoil openings including a half at each end, set between thirty-four open arches. Turner’s incorrect ‘37’ below the central balcony appears to have been amended on the spot, with the second digit overwriting a ‘5’ or ‘8’.
Like the drawing in the opposite direction along the Molo on folio 53 verso (D14416), this is relatively slight, causing Finberg to call them ‘hurried and perfunctory sketches ... as though Turner was not keenly interested in the famous buildings’.5

Matthew Imms
March 2017

1
Undated MS note by A.J. Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, I, p.513.
2
Undated MS note by C.F. Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, I, p.513.
3
Undated MS note by Bell (before 1936) in copy of Finberg 1930, Prints and Drawings Study Room, British Museum, London, p.164, as transcribed by Ian Warrell (undated notes, Tate catalogue files).
4
See Finberg 1930, p.34.
5
Ibid.
6
A.J. Finberg, ‘Turner’s Work’, no date, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.V, verso of photograph at folio 74; see E.T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn (eds.), Library Edition: The Works of John Ruskin: Volume XXXV: Præterita; and Dilecta, London 1908, reproduced opposite p.182.

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