Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Vaulted Interior with Figures, ?Venice

1840

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 219 × 286 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D32244
Turner Bequest CCCXVIII 25

Catalogue entry

The Turner scholar C.F. Bell annotated Finberg’s basic 1909 Inventory entry (‘An Interior, with figures): ‘nondescript’.1 The occasion and setting for what appears to be a large gathering in a vaulted space is unclear, as the ghostly figures roughed out in opaque white against the grey paper are barely articulated; compare those in Tate D32231 and D32233 (Turner Bequest CCCXVIII 12, 14), both of which also include accents of yellow. The touches here, high up on the right and scattered across the figures, might hint at gold, suggesting the richly ornamented interior and elaborate costumes of a gathering on some public occasion or at a grand party at a palazzo, whether witnessed or imagined.
1
Undated MS note by Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1028.
Technical notes:
The dense touches of yellow gouache are notably glossy. Likely at least in part owing to its not having been widely exhibited and exposed, this is one of the best-preserved of the studies on brown and grey papers associated with Turner’s 1840 Venice stay; it is one of numerous such works Ian Warrell has noted as being on ‘Grey wove [paper], with a textured surface, produced by an unknown maker’ mostly measuring around 218 x 285 mm:1 Tate D32222, D32234–D32236, D32243–D32244 (Turner Bequest CCCXVIII 3, 15–17, 24, 25).
1
‘Appendix: The papers used for Turner’s Venetian Watercolours’ (1840, section 12) in Warrell 2003, p.259.
Verso:
Blank; inscribed by Turner in ink ‘31’ bottom right, upside down; inscribed in pencil ‘58’ centre, ascending vertically; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram over ‘CCCXVIII – 25’ bottom left; inscribed in pencil ‘D32244’ and ‘CCCXVIII [...]’ bottom right. For Turner’s ink numbering of many similar sheets, see the Introduction to the tour.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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