Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Waterfront Churches at the Western End of Venice, Including Sant’Andrea, Santa Maria Maggiore and Santa Marta, with a Sailing Boat


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 31 a

Catalogue entry

With the page turned horizontally, there are numerous small studies here, made from a boat around what was then the western tip of Venice, running north-east between the entrances to the Canale della Giudecca and the Grand Canal prior to the extensive modern docks complex. Labelled at the top left are the rounded gables and campanile at the west end of the church of Sant’Andrea della Zirada, overlooking the Canale di Santa Chiara south-west of the railway station; the elevated People Mover shuttle track now runs alongside it to the left from this angle.
At the top right is the profile of the former church of Santa Maria Maggiore, with its conical spire and prominent finials; down the canal of the same name south of Sant’Andrea, it is now part of a prison complex opposite the old Campo di Marte.
The viewpoint of the prospect running across the page below is uncertain, but was on the Lagoon in the same vicinity, with the former convent of Santa Chiara labelled at the left; then a military hospital, as Turner noted, it now houses the local police and the Red Cross.1 West of the entrance to the Grand Canal, at that time it stood on its own small island which was later incorporated into the docks. The view extends along the waterfront south-west to where the former church of Santa ‘Marta’ is labelled, near the mouth of the Canale della Giudecca.
The more developed view taking up most of the lower half may show Santa Marta, with scalloped brickwork under its eaves, on the right (see also folios 32 recto and verso; D31852-D31853). This drawing is more pictorial, including a large sailing boat, distant towers and a dome. Compare the setting of a watercolour study in the contemporary Grand Canal and Giudecca sketchbook (Tate D32125; Turner Bequest CCCXV 9). There is a further thumbnail sketch of unidentified buildings at the bottom left.
Ian Warrell has noted that 1840 Giudecca studies such as those on folios 17 recto (D32823) and 30 verso–33 recto (D31849–D31854) here, and in the Venice; Passau to Würzburg sketchbook (Tate D31288–D31293; Turner Bequest CCCX 6a–9), show how Turner ‘really began to see that this previously neglected quarter offered original ways of seeing Venice’.2

Matthew Imms
September 2018

See Jeff Cotton, ‘Santa Chiara’, The Churches of Venice, accessed 3 September 2018,
Warrell 2003, pp.179, 264 note 4.

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