The setting is the eastern end of the Canale della Giudecca, off the bridge over the entrance to the Rio della Salute on the Fondamenta Zattere Ai Saloni, the shadow beneath its arch and its reflection indicated with a curving stroke of wash only, aligned with the southern end of the Baroque church of Santa Maria della Salute. To the right of the bridge is the Seminario Patriarcale, with the porch of the Dogana beyond at the centre, overlooking the Bacino. Above the low south front of the Dogana, the campanile of San Marco (St Mark’s) rises to the north-east.
Distant forms dissolve beyond the boats on the right, with only loose wash indications of the Riva degli Schiavoni waterfront stretching east beyond the Bacino. The stark, glaring light suggests that the scene is presented in the late morning or around noon. Ian Warrell has noted that ‘Turner’s fondness for these moorings at the eastern end of the Giudecca canal is readily apparent’ from various 1840 watercolours (see also Tate D32147, D32163, D32172, D32174; Turner Bequest CCCXVI 10, 26, 35, 37), ‘some of his most delicate studies of Venice, faintly developed in thinly coloured washes’.1
Pencil work is restricted to the Salute and Seminario; otherwise the composition has been built up with confident strokes of a limited range of washes, leaving much of the foreground bare. Finberg gave a lyrical description of Turner’s technique here and in similar Venice studies, albeit noting ‘languid and careless’ pencil work:
But attention is diverted from the line-work by the skilful washes and touches of colour with which they are enlivened. Portions of the white paper are generally left uncovered, and small touches of very pale grey, blue, yellow and red are scattered here and there. The effect in the slighter drawings, like cccxvi, 2 [D32139], 4 [D32141], and 33, is quite charming, because all the touches and washes of colour are so pretty in themselves, and they unite so well with each other and with the white paper. Turner is such a consummate master of picture-making that he can work wonders even with a few formless but artfully places touches or blobs.1
Finberg 1930, pp.122, 125.
Albeit Peter Bower, Turner’s Later Papers: A Study of the Manufacture, Selection and Use of his Drawing Papers 1820–1851, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999, p.81, notes that the Muggeridge family had taken over after 1820, still using the ‘C Ansell’ watermark.
‘Appendix: The papers used for Turner’s Venetian Watercolours’ (1840, section 2) in Warrell 2003, p.259.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.463 no.1356, reproduced.
Ibid., p.464 no.1365.
Warrell 2003, p.259.
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