Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Canale della Giudecca, Venice, with Santa Maria della Salute, the Campanile of San Marco (St Mark’s), the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Place) and San Giorgio Maggiore

1840

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 245 × 308 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D32145
Turner Bequest CCCXVI 8

Catalogue entry

The Turner scholar C.F. Bell extended Finberg’s 1909 Inventory entry (‘At the mouth of the Giudecca. The Dogana and Campanile on the left, with San Giorgio on the right’): ‘from the Canale della Grazia’.1 However, the viewpoint seems to be somewhat further west, along or just off the Fondamenta della Croce on the Isola della Giudecca, half way between the Redentore and the Zitelle, going by the relative angles of elements of Santa Maria della Salute and San Giorgio Maggiore, which frame the view at left and right respectively. The vantage point was long familiar; see for example the 1819 Venice to Ancona sketchbook (Tate D14523; Turner Bequest CLXXVI 19).
The prospect ranges north and north-east, and is severely laterally compressed, by a factor of about three; the south side of the Dogana alone would occupy most of the width of the sheet if rendered accurately, with the campanile of San Marco (St Mark’s) outside its right-hand edge. The tower is actually seen on a diagonal from this angle, while the Molo front of the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) is shown as an undifferentiated block below to its right. The pale, evanescent skyline above the Riva degli Schiavoni forms a much simplified backdrop to the more substantial forms of San Giorgio, and a sense of recession is deftly generated by the darker forms of the gondolas towards the foreground on that side. Leo Costello has discussed this work among others showing the characteristic leaning action of energetic gondoliers,2 here captured in a couple of deft strokes of the brush.
The view is almost the same in Tate D32139 (Turner Bequest CCCXVI 2), a similarly slight but atmospheric work. Ian Warrell has noted the differences in the direction of lighting, from the left to suggest afternoon or evening in the other case, and from the right here, in a morning effect which likely informed the oil painting Ducal Palace, Dogano, with part of San Georgio, Venice, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1841 (Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio).3
1
Undated MS note by Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p..
2
See Costello 2012, p.192.
3
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.240–1 no.390, pl.394 (colour); see Warrell 2003, p.181.
4
David Loshak and Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner 1775–1851: Akvareller og Tegninger fra British Museum, exhibition catalogue, Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen 1976, p.72.
5
Tipped in at the back of a copy in the Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain.
6
Ibid., p.73.
1
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.
2
‘Appendix: The papers used for Turner’s Venetian Watercolours’ (1840, section 2) in Warrell 2003, p.259.
3
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.463 no.1356, reproduced.
4
Ibid., p.464 no.1365.
5
Warrell 2003, p.259.

Matthew Imms
July 2018

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