In August 1840 Turner crossed the Channel to Rotterdam, and travelled up the Rhine on what was to be his last journey to Italy, the country that had inspired so much of his work. His destination was Venice, where he arrived on 20 August. Venice was then a city of crumbling palaces, fitting well Turner's typically Romantic fascination with the decline of once great civilisations. He spent two weeks in the city, staying at the Hotel Europa. During this time he made an extensive series of richly coloured watercolours of every part of the serene city. They show Venice under a variety of atmospheric conditions, from the haziness of dawn to the crisp sunlight of midday, and finally the voluptuous colouring of twilight and the setting sun.
Gallery label, August 2004