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The subject of this painting is an oblique view of the Riva degli Schiavoni, the principal waterfront in Venice. On the left is the Doge’s Palace with the Campanile of San Marco behind, and on the right is the white dome and bell tower of the church of San Zaccaria. The quay in the foreground is crowded with boats, their vertical masts punctuating the long stretch of promenade beyond. Like many of Turner’s images of Venice, the picture is characterised by the haziness of its forms, and it is difficult to say where the land ends and the water begins.

February 2010