Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Basilica of San Marco (St Mark’s), Venice, with the Piazzetta Beyond and the Campanile and Biblioteca Marciana (Libreria Sansoviniana) 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 42 a

Catalogue entry

The drawing is inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation. The Turner scholar C.F. Bell annotated Finberg’s detailed 1909 Inventory entry (‘The Piazzetta, looking towards the Lagune, with the Campanile and Library on the right, and the Ducal Palace on the left’), rightly crossing out the mention of the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) palace and adding: ‘L and C[...] Piazza in perspective’.1
The viewpoint is near the north-west corner of the Basilica of San Marco, at the north-eastern end of the Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square), its clustered marble columns (continued a little way onto folio 43 recto opposite; D14395) in steep recession at the left framing the prospect south-south-east down the Piazzetta to the Molo fronting the Bacino. On the diagonal to the south-west on the right are the campanile and its loggetta, with the Biblioteca Marciana (Libreria Sansoviniana) to their left, the regular façade of the Procuratie Nuove to their right, and figures around market stalls with awnings in the square. Ian Warrell and Diane Perkins have noted that, as is often the case, Turner ‘avoided sketching repetitious architectural features by writing “24” on the arches of the Library and drawing only a few of them carefully’.2
There is a similar view from nearer to the campanile, showing more of the basilica, on folio 41 verso (D14392). As Warrell and Perkins observe, such a subject ‘would have been popular with tourists then, as it is today’.3 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.
Warrell and Perkins 1988, p.58.

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like

In the shop