Joseph Mallord William Turner

Boats at the Entrance to the Canale della Giudecca, Venice, off Santa Maria della Salute and the Dogana


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite, watercolour, bodycolour and pen and ink on paper
Support: 190 × 281 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXVII 21

Catalogue entry

Looking north-west across the entrance to the Canale della Giudecca from off the eastern end of the Isola della Giudecca, the domes of Santa Maria della Salute are shown above the Seminario Patriarcale, with the Dogana, laterally compressed as often in Turner’s views, to their right. Above the Dogana is the campanile of Santo Stefano, and to the right, beyond the entrance to the Grand Canal, the spire of San Moisè. The somewhat generalised façade to the left of the latter would be the Hotel Europa (Palazzo Giustinian), where Turner stayed in 1833 and 1840; see the parallel subsection of views in and around the building.
As discussed in the Introduction to this subsection, there is some uncertainty as to which of those two visits may have led to the technically similar watercolours included here. Ian Warrell has noted a possible topographical clue, in that while the inconspicuous, lower tower between Santo Stefano and the porch of the Dogana may be that of San Maurizio, it might be Sant’Angelo, which was demolished in 1837; in that case, ‘this study, at least, must date from 1833’.1 At any event, this view functions intentionally or not as a more spatially accurate reprise and continuation of the left-hand half of Tate D32206 (Turner Bequest CCCXVII 20), which is centred on the campanile of San Marco (St Mark’s) and the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace). Lindsay Stainton has observed that a slightly larger 1840 watercolour on pale buff paper, Between the Giudecca and the Isola di San Giorgio, with the Bacino di San Marco (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge),2 ‘may have been taken from much the same viewpoint’.3
A little pencil work, perhaps done on the spot, defines the structure, but the sunlit atmosphere is generated by a combination of opaque pale gouache4 standing out against the grey paper, loose watercolour washes, more precisely applied touches with the brush, and apparently some penwork, again using watercolour.5 Andrew Wilton has speculated of the numerous works on such paper now generally associated with 1840 (see the technical notes below): ‘Although it is possible that they were done at different times during Turner’s travels, it seems more probable that they were worked up as a sequence or series from notes or from memory after Turner had returned to England ... If so, it is possible that some of the other Venetian views, which have features in common with these, particularly in respect of colour, may have been produced in England.’6
Warrell 2003, p.21; see also p.179.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.464 no.1362, reproduced.
Stainton 1985, p.51.
See Upstone 1993, p.38.
See Wilton 1975, p.136, Stainton 1985, p.51, and Warrell 2003, p.271.
Wilton 1975, p.136.
See Peter Bower, Turner’s Later Papers: A Study of the Manufacture, Selection and Use of his Drawing Papers 1820–1851, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999, pp.105–7 under no.59.
‘Appendix: The papers used for Turner’s Venetian Watercolours’ in Warrell 2003, p.258; the six works are individually dated ‘1833 or 1840’ elsewhere in the book; see also pp.21, 90.
See ibid., p.259, section 8.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like