Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Campo and Church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, with the Scuola Grande di San Marco beside the Rio dei Mendicanti

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
D31887
Turner Bequest CCCXIII 49 a

Catalogue entry

The drawing was made with the page turned horizontally. Finberg later annotated his 1909 Inventory entry (‘Campo de’ S.S. Giovanni e Paolo’), altering the first two words to ‘Church of’ and adding ‘with Colleoni statue & Scuola di S. Marco’.1 The Turner scholar C.F. Bell marked another copy: ‘looking East’.2 Verrocchio’s Renaissance bronze equestrian sculpture of Bartolomeo Colleoni is shown towards the right on its high pedestal in the square beside the imposing church, not far east of the Rialto. To the left of the Gothic west front (in unfaced brick with stone dressings) are the semi-circular gables above the intricate marble Renaissance façade of the Scuola Grande di San Marco, now a hospital.
Turner’s sketch is too slight to register the contrasting materials or the complexities of the decoration; unusually, he has used diagonal hatching to suggest shadow at the centre. In the foreground are boats on the Rio dei Mendicanti, running north-north-east to the left, with a further slight study of a boat or boats inverted at the bottom left. There is another such study just across the gutter on folio 50 recto opposite (D31888), where the main subject appears to be the interior of the church.
Finberg used the present page as an example of the ‘Changed character of sketches’ from what he regarded as the more diligent work of Turner’s first visit to Venice in 1819, with their ‘clear-cut, definite and thoughtful statements’ replaced by ‘little more than careless outlines with the details ignored or treated impatiently’: ‘that of SS. Giovanni e Paolo (p. 49a) has more substance, but the treatment of the Colleoni statue is not very satisfactory.’3 See also his comments on the recto (D31886) and folio 6 verso (D31802).
Compare the similar views from a little further back and forward in the 1833 Venice sketchbook (Tate D31989, D31991; Turner Bequest CCCXIV 32a, 34).
1
Undated MS note by Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1011.
2
Undated MS note by Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1011.
3
Finberg 1930, p.122.
Technical notes:
There is some abrasion and staining along the gutter at the top, which has bled through from the recto (D31886).

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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