Joseph Mallord William Turner

Boats and Figures on the Rio del Palazzo, Venice, under the Bridge of Sighs


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 89 × 149 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXX 76 a

Catalogue entry

Finberg later annotated his basic 1909 Inventory entry (‘Boat, with figures, &c.’): ‘Boats under Bridge of Sighs’.1 With the pages turned horizontally, the bridge is lightly indicated in the upper part of this view, on folio 77 recto opposite (D32413). Looking north up the Rio del Palazzo from off the Bacino, the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) is on left, with the New Prisons opposite.
Cecilia Powell has noted folios 76 verso–77 recto (D32412–D32413) as the first of the Venetian views filling the rest of this sketchbook, following on from a long sequence mostly characterised as ‘Mountains’ by Finberg (7 recto–76 recto; D32275–D32411)2 along his rout south-east from Bregenz (see under folio 2 verso; D32266).3 They are likely among the first drawings made on Turner’s third and last stay in Venice; see the sketchbook’s Introduction.
The subject was long familiar to the artist; shortly before the present tour, he had exhibited his oil painting Venice, the Bridge of Sighs at the 1840 Royal Academy exhibition (Tate N00527).4 Compare sketches in the contemporary Venice; Passau to Würzburg sketchbook, perhaps the last made in Venice (Tate D31306–D31307, D31309–D31310, D31388; Turner Bequest CCCX 15a, 16, 17, 18, 57), and an evocative watercolour study on grey-brown paper, showing the scene by night (Tate D32253; Turner Bequest CCCXIX 5). There is another view on folio 90 recto (D32439).

Matthew Imms
September 2018

Undated MS note by Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, opposite p.1032; see also Finberg 1930, p.170.
See Finberg 1909, II, pp.1030–2.
See Powell 1995, pp.65, 81 note 9.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.235 no.383, pl.386 (colour).

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