Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Basilica of San Marco (St Mark’s), Venice, with the Piazzetta Beyond and the Campanile Opposite


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 112 × 185 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXV 41 a

Catalogue entry

The view, inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, is continued briefly on folio 42 recto opposite (D14393). The Turner scholar C.F. Bell annotated Finberg’s 1909 Inventory entry (‘Basilica di S. Marco’): ‘Piazzetta in the centre library [...] Campanile to r’.1 The viewpoint was near the Torre dell’Orologio (clock tower) at the north-eastern corner of the Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square), looking south over the Piazzetta to the Molo, with the domed church of San Giorgio Maggiore across the Bacino to the south-south-east, framed by the Basilica of San Marco at an angle on the left – largely obscuring the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) – and its campanile on the right, with the loggetta at its base in front of the Biblioteca Marciana (Libreria Sansoviniana).2
Finberg observed that the ‘structure of the cathedral front is swiftly indicated, but all the details are scamped’,3 which Turner remedied by making careful studies of details on folio 43 recto (D14395).4 Ian Warrell has described Turner taking ‘some time trying to digest its polychromatic rhythms and its subtle asymmetries’.5 There is a view from nearby, looking further to the right, on folio 42 verso (D14394).
For other drawings made in the vicinity and an overview of Turner’s coverage of Venice, see the sketchbook’s Introduction.

Matthew Imms
March 2017

Undated MS note by C.F. Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, I, p.513.
See Finberg 1930, pp.27–8.
Ibid., p.28.
See ibid.
Warrell 2003, p.125.

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