Joseph Mallord William Turner

Shipping in the Bacino, Venice, with Santa Maria della Salute at the Entrance to the Grand Canal in the Distance


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 221 × 321 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXV 4

Display caption

All but one of the watercolours on this wall were originally part of a sketchbook containing twenty-two views of Venice (the exception is no.70). The book was broken up by Ruskin in 1857 when he made the selection displayed here. Their sequence in Ruskin's catalogue has suggested the probable order in which they were found. However, because Ruskin was not always systemmatic in the way he dismantled Turner's sketchbooks, it is now often very difficult to determine which loose leaves relate to which sketchbook, and in what order they should be placed within a book.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Looking west over the Bacino off the Riva degli Schiavoni, perhaps about level with the church of the Pietà, the domes of Santa Maria della Salute appear at the far left overlooking the entrance to the Grand Canal.1 The reddish vertical accent towards the right may indicate the campanile of San Marco (St Mark’s).2 If the pale form immediately to the right of the Salute is intended as the porch of the Dogana, this would make the viewpoint quite far south from the Riva, off the Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore, although topographical accuracy is less important here than the atmospheric effect of the pink and blue clouds against the pale sky; in 1857 John Ruskin limited his commentary to: ‘Head of the Grand Canal. Afternoon. Bad weather coming on.’3 In his 1881 notes the title became ‘San Giorgio’,4 perhaps reflecting his sense of the viewpoint.
Ian Warrell has noted that Ruskin associated the subject with other 1840 subjects as ‘a series of views along the rambling Riva degli Schiavoni, which suggests that Turner explored its length by foot, as well as from the water’ (see also Tate D32157–D32160; Turner Bequest CCCXVI 20–23).5 Andrew Wilton has likened the ‘mood and treatment’ here to those of other pages from this sketchbook showing the broad reaches of the Canale della Giudecca (D32127–D32129; CCCXV 11–13).6
Warrell has compared the palette with that of the watercolour The Sun of Venice: Bragozzi Moored off the Riva degli Schiavoni (National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh),7 a technically similar page associated with the notional contemporary ‘Storm’ sketchbook (see the Introduction to the present sketchbook). This may indicate that ‘in some instances Turner worked on an image in both books simultaneously, allowing his colours to dry as he went back and forth between the two’;8 Warrell notes that the overall effect of the Bequest work is ‘generalised and indistinct’, qualities it shares, along with the Salute in the same position and colours on the left, with the backdrop of the Edinburgh sheet (where the church seems darker by contrast against a clear sky), otherwise characterised by the greater detail of its shipping.9
See Warrell 1995, p.105.
See Warrell 2003, p.226.
Cook and Wedderburn 1904, p.213.
Ibid., p.373.
Warrell 1995, p.100.
Wilton 1975, p.139; see also p.142.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.465 no.1374, pl.233.
Warrell 2003, p.95.
Ibid., p.226.
Gage 1969, p.117.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.242–3 no.393, pl.393.
Gage 1969, p.252 note 215.
Krause 1997, p.263 no.83, reproduced in colour; see also pp.258, 260.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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