Joseph Mallord William Turner

Buildings in Venice, Probably on a Canal, with a Distant Tower; Buildings with a Distant Spire, Perhaps St Moriz’s Church, Coburg

1840

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 126 × 198 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D31277
Turner Bequest CCCX 1

Catalogue entry

Turner originally used this page horizontally, for a slight view of Venice, with a distant tower (presumably a campanile) beyond loosely blocked-in buildings, probably on a side canal.
As noted in the sketchbook’s Introduction, the Venice views on its early pages are intermingled with German sketches from Turner’s return journey. At the bottom left, inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, is a more forceful, rapid sketch of buildings including a distant Baroque spire, which Cecilia Powell has considered as likely to show Coburg (see under the verso, D31278);1 compare the handling on folio 2 recto (D31279). The spire may be that of St Moriz, seen in other views including D31278.
At the right, descending relative to the initial Venice view, are continuations of inscriptions by Turner and a German-speaker relating to travel arrangements between Bamberg (see under folio 19 recto; D31312) and Coburg, carried over from the front paste-down inside the cover opposite (D41399), under which these notes are discussed.
Aligned with them, Turner’s has noted ‘Wiss Swan’, with a tiny picture of the bird, evidently in relation to the Weisser Schwan hotel where he stayed in Coburg, drawing the view from it over the page (D31278). This memorandum is preceded by ‘Coburg – 17 Sepr’.2 The same date appears on folio 60 recto (D31394) and 20 September is noted as a Sunday on folio 62 recto (D31398); both pages again showing Coburg. Specific dates are unusual in Turner’s sketchbooks; see this book’s Introduction.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

1
See Powell 1995, p.242
2
See ibid., and p.71.

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