Joseph Mallord William Turner

Boats on the Lagoon near Venice, around Sunset


On loan

ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum (Aarhus, Denmark): Turner Watercolours: Sun is God

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 246 × 306 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 137

Catalogue entry

Described by Finberg as a generic scene of ‘Boats at sea: Evening’, this loosely worked study was first proposed as a likely ‘view on the lagoon at Venice’ by Andrew Wilton;1 the paper is similar to that used for many more readily identifiable views associated with Turner’s 1840 visit (see the technical notes below). Discussing several of the Lagoon subjects in the present grouping in relation to Turner’s interest in Goethe’s colour theory2 (see the Introduction to this subsection), Ian Warrell has noted the artist’s fundamental structural device of ‘horizontal bands of colour’, describing this ‘predominantly yellow study’ as ‘little more than a suggestion of forms floating against a brilliantly illuminated sky’ albeit with ‘subtle rosy tints on the right’ which recur in Tate D32162 and D36190 (Turner Bequest CCCXVI 25, CCCLXIV 332).3
Some of the supposedly topographical colour studies around the waters of the Bacino in the heart of the city are scarcely more developed beyond their expression of enveloping reflected light and atmosphere, often at evening; compare for example Tate D32152, D32161 or D32175 (Turner Bequest CCCXVI 15, 24, 38).
Wilton 1975, p.150; see also Wilton 1983, p.291.
See Warrell 2003, p.235.
Ibid., pp.235–6.
Technical notes:
This is one of numerous 1840 Venice works Ian Warrell has noted as on sheets of ‘white paper produced [under the name] Charles Ansell,1 each measuring around 24 x 30 cm, several watermarked with the date “1828”’:2 Tate D32138–D32139, D32141–D32143, D32145–D32147, D32154–D32163, D32167–D32168, D32170–D32177, D35980, D36190 (Turner Bequest CCCXVI 1, 2, 4–6, 8–10, 17–26, 30, 31, 33–40, CCCLXIV 137, 332). Warrell has also observed that The Doge’s Palace and Piazzetta, Venice (National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin)3 and Venice: The New Moon (currently untraced)4 ‘may belong to this group’.5
Albeit 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, p.81, notes that the Muggeridge family had taken over after 1820, still using the ‘C Ansell’ watermark.
‘Appendix: The papers used for Turner’s Venetian Watercolours’ (1840, section 2) in Warrell 2003, p.259.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.463 no.1356, reproduced.
Ibid., p.464 no.1365.
Warrell 2003, p.259.
Blank; inscribed in pencil ‘15’ bottom left, upside down.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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