Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Campanile of San Marco (St Mark’s), Venice, beyond Waterfront Buildings in the Canale della Grazia

1840

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 123 × 173 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D31846
Turner Bequest CCCXIII 29

Catalogue entry

Finberg later annotated his 1909 Inventory entries for folios 29 recto and verso and 30 recto (D31846–D31848: ‘Campanile, &c.’): ‘scaffolding shown | all from a gondola on Basino [sic]’.1 The Turner scholar C.F. Bell similarly marked another copy, albeit describing the viewpoints as ‘from a gondola on the Canale di S. Marco’,2 which appears incorrect.
With the page turned horizontally, the main view shows the campanile of San Marco (St Mark’s), lightly drawn but unmistakable owing to the tiers of scaffolding around its spire (a key pointer to 1840 as the date; see the tour Introduction).3 Below to its right are loose indications of the Basilica and the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace), facing south across the Bacino. The more detailed view on the verso (D31847) shows much the same aspect from a little further west; compare also the rather slighter sketch on folio 28 verso opposite (D31845), which may also include the tower and palace.
The low structure in the foreground appears to be complemented by the more substantial buildings drawn separately at the top right, which seem to form a continuation to the right, with what may be a steamer approaching. Together, these elements suggest the viewpoint as the Canale della Grazia, between the islands of the Giudecca and San Giorgio Maggiore. There are still boatsheds at the eastern tip of the Giudecca, while the fenestration of the other buildings corresponds with that of the monastery complex lining the opposite side south of the church of San Giorgio; compare the sketches on folios 40 recto and verso (D31868–D31869), and a contemporary watercolour showing the view to St Mark’s from the channel (Tate D32156; Turner Bequest CCCXVI 19).
This is one of a several studies in this book (see also folios 16 verso, 22 recto and verso, 25 verso, 32 recto and 41 verso; D31822, D31833–D31834, D31839, D31852, D31871) noted by Ian Warrell, many of which show the sun setting from the vicinity of San Giorgio Maggiore, in connection with an anecdote by the watercolourist William Callow (1812–1908), who recalled relaxing in a gondola and seeing Turner still busy working at that late hour, sketching the church from another boat.4

Matthew Imms
September 2018

1
Undated MS note by Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1010.
2
Undated MS note by Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1010.
3
See also George 1971, p.86.
4
See Warrell 2003, pp.197, 264 notes 5 and 6.

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