Joseph Mallord William Turner

San Giorgio Maggiore and the Zitelle across the Bacino, Venice, with the Porch of the Dogana, ?from a Balcony of the Hotel Europa (Palazzo Giustinian)


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 89 × 149 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXX 87

Catalogue entry

The drawings from folios 82 verso to here (D32424–D32433), all made with the pages turned horizontally, form a brief sequence of views around the Bacino. Finberg later annotated his 1909 Inventory entry, amending his reading of Turner’s note (‘Do. [i.e. ditto: Shipping] – “Chietta.”’): ‘Citella’.1 He also expanded his description: ‘3 sketches. S. Giorgio, Citella [sic], & Dogana. ?from Gd. Hotel’.2
The three-part view forms a panorama: at the top is the church of San Giorgio Maggiore on its island, across the Bacino to the south-east, flanked by the two lighthouses of its small harbour to the left; across the middle is the Isola della Giudecca waterfront to the south-south-east (with a detail above), towards the distinctive entrance front of the church of the Zitelle labelled (albeit uncertainly) at the right; below, the focus moves first to the foreground, with the monumental porch of the Dogana on the left, apparently with the varied skyline of the Giudecca continued to its right, presumably seen over the more regular, level roofline of the Dogana itself, which would coincide with the gutter. The lower part of the porch is continued a little way across folio 86 verso opposite (D32432).
The viewpoint was thus somewhat elevated, and likely a balcony on the entrance front of the Hotel Europa (Palazzo Giustinian), where Turner was staying on this occasion; see the parallel subsection of views from in and around the hotel. The prospect east to the Canale di San Marco waterfront beyond the Bacino on D32432 effectively forms a continuation to the left, albeit drawn the other way up. The isolated view south-west over the Grand Canal to Santa Maria della Salute on folio 17 verso (D32296) may have been observed from the same point.
The overall vista is comparable with that in Turner’s painting of The Dogano, San Giorgio, Citella, from the Steps of the Europa, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1842 (Tate N00372);3 he had first evoked the scene in two watercolours in his 1819 Como and Venice sketchbook (Tate D15254, D15256; Turner Bequest CLXXXI 4, 6). See also the slightly more refined variant two-part view in the 1840 Venice and Botzen book (Tate D31828; Turner Bequest CCCXIII 19a).

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.1033; see also Finberg 1930, p.170.
Ibid., opposite p.1033.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.245–6 no.396, pl.400 (colour).

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