Joseph Mallord William Turner

Distant Views of Venice from the Canal Orfano, with Shipping off San Giorgio Maggiore, and Church Domes and 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
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 123 × 173 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D31875
Turner Bequest CCCXIII 43 a

Catalogue entry

There are several related studies here, all made with the page turned horizontally. Finberg later annotated his 1909 Inventory entry (‘Shipping and distant buildings’): ‘5 sk[etches] from Lagoon. S. Giorgio, Campanile, D’s Pal &c’.1 They are more focused that the slight indications of the skyline on the recto (D31874), and all show variant prospects from the ‘canal Orfano’ mentioned by Finberg in relation to folios 40 recto–44 recto (D31868–D31876),2 running south past the east side of the Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore to the more open waters of the Lagoon.
The upper and middle views on the present page show the dome and campanile of San Giorgio at the centre, with the domed churches along the Canale della Giudecca beyond to the left, and the campanile of San Marco (St Mark’s) across the Bacino to the right, with the domes of St Mark’s above the Riva degli Schiavoni. The tower is shown with the scaffolding which is a key factor in dating the 1840 drawings; see the tour’s Introduction.3 Compare the central section of the disjointed panorama of folio 41 verso (D31871), and the loose waterfront sketches on folio 44 recto opposite (D31876).
The views at the bottom left and right, separated by a vertical line, are variations on the theme. The silhouetted shipping may be moored in the boatyards formerly off the east side of the island; see the entry for Tate D32168 (Turner Bequest CCCXVI 31), a loose contemporary watercolour study likely showing the same vicinity, with skeletal two or three-masted vessels apparently under construction or being broken up.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

1
Undated MS note by Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1011.
2
Finberg 1930, p.171.
3
See also George 1971, p.86.

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