Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study of Carts, Horses and Figures, Perhaps at the Arsenale, Venice


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 243 × 308 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Catalogue entry

The recto is D32164 (Turner Bequest CCCXVI 27), a watercolour study of a canal on the perimeter of the Arsenale complex in Venice, likely created largely in the studio from sketches, memory and imagination, but perhaps at least begun during Turner’s 1840 visit; Ian Warrell has noted that he ‘may, in fact, have developed the drawing over a rudimentary sketch made on the spot, for the back of the sheet has pencil studies of figures, horses and carts that were possibly jotted down while touring’ the site.1
Alternatively, the sheet may have been to hand on the return journey through Slovenia, Austria and Germany; compare Tate D33884 (Turner Bequest CCCXLI 183v), a study of figures and a carriage in a mountainous setting on the back of a contemporary Venetian view (D33883).The present scene appears unhurried and not obviously military, with a few figures gathered round what seems to be a large barrel on the cart on the right, and perhaps an enclosed carriage or coach on the left; there is a sense of an elevated viewpoint such as a hotel window.
Turner’s ‘7 V’ is one a few such inscriptions on Venice-related sheets, perhaps considered as a loose sequence of some kind, and doubtless relates to the Arsenale watercolour; see the Introduction to the tour.
Warrell 2003, p.127.
Technical notes:
For the paper, see the entry for the recto (D32164).

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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