Joseph Mallord William Turner

Boats off Santa Maria della Salute at the Entrance to the Canale della Giudecca, Venice, with the Campanile of San Marco (St Mark’s) Beyond

?1840

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Gouache, graphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 194 × 284 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D32209
Turner Bequest CCCXVII 24

Catalogue entry

The view is from about the middle of the Canale della Giudecca off the church of the Redentore, looking north to the arches over the doorways of the Emporio dei Sali (or Magazzini del Sale) on the left, apparently with the campanile of Santo Stefano brought into the composition from a little further west. Beyond are the familiar domes and twin campanili of the church of Santa Maria della Salute, with the Seminario Patriarcale picked out in fluid white, leading on to the less clearly defined Dogana. In the distance at the centre, the campanile of San Marco (St Mark’s) is shown as overly tall and slender, with the domes of the Basilica also somewhat emphatic above the shadowy Piazzetta side of the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace). Towards the right, the dome of San Zaccaria stands above the Riva degli Schiavioni, and the panorama ends with a white façade likely intended as the church of the Pietà.
Without further elaboration, in 1881 John Ruskin categorised this work among twenty-five Turner Bequest subjects ‘chiefly in Venice. Late time, extravagant, and showing some of the painter’s worst and final faults; but also, some of his peculiar gifts in a supreme degree.’1 Ian Warrell has highlighted the close compositional similarities with the painting Venice, from the Canale della Giudecca, Chiesa di S. Maria della Salute, &c., exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1840, just prior to Turner’s third and last visit to the city (Victoria and Albert Museum, London; engraved 1859–61: Tate impression T06361).2
Warrell’s suggestion that the painting ‘was perhaps based’ on this ‘simple colour study’3 would thus imply its association with the second stay, in 1833. Alternatively, although it, Tate D32207 and D32208 (Turner Bequest CCCXVII 22, 23) ‘set out the compositions of paintings exhibited at the Royal Academy before the 1840 visit, ... these could be interpreted as instances of Turner revisiting a subject he had already treated.’4 Which came first in this case remains a moot point, as the numerous differences in the disposition and elaboration of the shipping, proportions and other details to make it clear that the one was not a precise transcription of the other. Compare also Tate D32205 (Turner Bequest CCCXVII 20), which echoes a painting exhibited just before the 1833 stay.
1
Cook and Wedderburn 1904, p.384.
2
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.235–6 no.384, pl.387 (colour).
3
Warrell 2003, p.115.
4
Ibid., p.21.
1
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.
2
‘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.
3
See ibid., p.259, section 8.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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