Joseph Mallord William Turner

Santa Maria della Salute and the Dogana across the Bacino from the Canale della Grazia, Venice, at Evening, with the Entrance to the Grand Canal and the Campanile of San Marco (St Mark’s)


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 230 × 305 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXVI 13

Technique and condition

This work by Turner is a watercolour on a cream wove paper. Titled Distant view of the Entrance to the Grand Canal it is a loose, fluid painting of a sunrise or sunset scene. The work comprises of a series of thin washes over most of the support with some more intense colour though without thickness to emphasise detail.

This is a very loose, seemingly quick painting. The brush strokes seem quite hurried and loose, giving a very sketchy feel to this work. Most of the brush marks are very fluid though the marks that run diagonally from the centre down to the right hand corner exhibit an increasing dryness in application.

This work is in quite good condition with the pigments seemingly retaining a good deal of their vibrancy.

Jo Gracey
April 2001

Catalogue entry

The Turner scholar C.F. Bell annotated Finberg’s 1909 Inventory entry (‘Entrance to the Grand Canal. The Salute and Dogana on the left, the Campanile, &c., on the right’): ‘from the Riva della Cà di Dio looking west, sunset’.1 In fact, the viewpoint is rather further south, across the Bacino and just off the west front of the monastery buildings south of the church on the Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore in the right foreground, at the entrance to the Canale della Grazia; Tate D32156 (Turner Bequest CCCXVI 19) shows the scene from further back, along the channel.
The prospect ranges north-west and north, with the Salute and Dogana silhouetted against the evening glow towards the left, the campanile of San Moisè at the centre and the campanile of San Marco (St Mark’s) and the Molo front of the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) on the skyline towards the right. The view is rather laterally compressed; compare the detailed 1819 pencil drawing in the Milan to Venice sketchbook (Tate D14436–D14437; Turner Bequest CLXXV 63a–64). A sense of depth and distance is generated by the loose forms of boats at each side in the foreground.
Similarly generalised, atmospheric evening effects are seen in technically related nearby views (Tate D32151–D32152; Turner Bequest CCCXVI 14, 15), and on pages in the contemporary Grand Canal and Giudecca sketchbook (Tate D32130, D32133; Turner Bequest CCCXV 14, 17).2 Andrew Wilton has characterised such studies as ‘rich in colour but extremely economical of means, evoking the wide level waters of the Bacino di San Marco with a minimum of touches.’3
Lindsay Stainton has suggested that here Turner’s ‘aim seems to be above all with evoking atmospheric effects ... [such as] the rich glow of twilight – so that the broadly handled, almost schematised, treatment of architectural features is deliberately allusive’,4 while Ian Warrell has described D32150–D32152: ‘As a linked sequence, they deftly recreate the graduated nuances of the failing light, using the landmarks nearest the Bacino to chart the onset of twilight, passing from a washed-out pink to a sombre lilac and finally becoming a more solid blue.’5
Undated MS note by Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1019.
See also Warrell 2003, p.209.
Wilton 1982, p.60.
Stainton 1985, p.57; see also Warrell 1995, p.100.
Warrell 2003, p.209.
Finberg 1909, II, p.1019; see also Finberg 1930, p.174, Wilton 1974, p.154, Wilton 1975, pp.138, 143, Wilton 1976, p.148, Wilton 1977, p.81, Wilton 1982, p.60, Wilton 1983, p.287, and Stainton 1985, p.57.
‘Appendix: The papers used for Turner’s Venetian Watercolours’ (1840, section 7) in Warrell 2003, p.259.
Ibid.; see also Bower 1999, pp.111, 113.

Matthew Imms
July 2018

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