Joseph Mallord William Turner

Panoramic Views of Venice from the Canal Orfano off San Giorgio Maggiore, with the Campanili of San Marco (St Mark’s) and Others above the Riva degli Schiavoni and Quays towards the Giardini Pubblici


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 123 × 173 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXIII 41 a

Catalogue entry

This page is filled with numerous waterfront views of Venice. Finberg later annotated his 1909 Inventory entry (‘Distant buildings – “Canal Orfano” (?), “St. Joseph’s,” &c.’): ‘Several sketches from the “Canal Orfano” – behind S. Giorgio’.1 The Turner scholar C.F. Bell marked another copy beside the entries for folios 40 recto–42 recto (D31868–D31872): ‘All views from gondola. The Campanile always scaffolded’.2 The latter observation is important in dating this sketchbook to 1840, as discussed in the tour’s Introduction.3 The ‘Canal Orfano’ noted by Turner and mentioned by Finberg in relation to folios 40 recto–44 recto (D31868–D31876)4 runs south of the islands of San Giorgio and the Giudecca within the more open waters of the Lagoon.
Above the centre, the most detailed view is from south-east of San Giorgio and its campanile, with the main dome of Santa Maria della Salute (across the Bacino) showing over the monastery complex to the left, and the small disk of the setting sun low above it in turn. The view across the Canale di San Marco to the right is dominated by the scaffolded tower of St Mark’s, with the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) below to the right, and the start of the Riva degli Schiavoni. The prospect is continued above along the outer edge, and then again below that eastwards towards the Giardini Pubblici. Although on a small scale, most of the familiar domes and towers are recognisable, seemingly including San Zaccaria, San Giorgio dei Greci, Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Sant’Antonin, and the tall, distant spire of San Francesco della Vigna. The panorama, effectively of 180°, is concluded towards the bottom left, with the trees of the Giardini Pubblici and the campanile of San Pietro di Castello.
Inverted below, there is a last sketch at the gutter (and slightly overlapping onto folio 42 recto opposite (D31872), labelled with ‘Canal Orfano’ as its viewpoint, and showing the churches of the Redentore, the Zitelle, the Salute and San Giorgio, and St Mark’s campanile and the Doge’s Palace once again. Compare an adjacent sketch including some of these elements on the opposite page, and several variations on folio 43 verso (D31875).

Matthew Imms
September 2018

Undated MS note by Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1011.
Undated MS note by Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1011.
See also George 1971, p.86.
See also Finberg 1930, p.171.
See Warrell 2003, pp.197, 264 notes 5 and 6.

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