Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Church of Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, and the Seminario Patriarcale, across the Grand Canal


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 54

Catalogue entry

The drawing is inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation. Finberg subsequently annotated his 1909 Inventory entry (‘S. Maria della Salute) with his reading of Turner’s inscription: ‘“Part of Front broken”’.1 The Turner scholar C.F. Bell marked another copy: ‘from across the canal near the traghetto’.2 Bell similarly annotated Finberg’s entry in his 1930 In Venice with Turner.3
Looking south-west across the Grand canal to the Seminario Patriarcale and the end of the Dogana on the left4 below the domes of the church of the Madonna della Salute, the viewpoint near the entrance to the Calle dei Tredeci Martiri (which A.J. Finberg recalled in 1930 as the ‘Calle Lunga S. Moisè’5) is effectively the same as that used for the view focusing on the Dogana on folio 40 recto (D14389), in front of the Palazzo (or Ca’) Giustinian, then the Hotel Europa and now the headquarters of the Venice Biennale. Ian Warrell has noted that the present view effectively forms a ‘panorama’ with D14389 at the centre and folio 66 verso (D14442), showing the church on the Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore, to the left.6 Finberg identified the Abbazia di San Gregorio to the right, with the dome of the church of Santa Maria del Rosario (the Gesuati) beyond, already obscured by later developments in his time.7
Finberg observed, leading on from subjects on previous pages:
The intricacy, profusion and irregularity of buildings like the Doge’s palace and St. Mark’s had not lent themselves at all easily to Turner’s rapid and summary style of sketching. It was different with a late Renaissance or Baroque building like the Salute. He was familiar with such architecture. He could take it all in at once, and there was no necessity for his pencil to hesitate or falter. As a piece of pictorial handwriting with a hard point this drawing gives me unfailing delight. It is done as it were at the gallop, and I feel sure Turner enjoyed doing it.8
Nevertheless, he commented that the ‘domes, especially the smaller one, are perhaps a trifle taller than they should be; the outlines of the main dome seem to be correct on the left side, but on the right they bulge too much’, although ‘the sketch gives the general proportions, the grace, and what I may call the movement, of the building with marvellous accuracy’.9 He suggested that it shows ‘the balustrade on the left side of the porch and some of the statues’ as ‘in need of repair; and to make assurance doubly sure Turner has written on the sea below the porch, – “Part of Front Broken.”’10 This reading is by no means certain, and the inscription appears to comprise five short words, possibly relating to adjacent boats.
Undated MS note by A.J. Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, I, p.514.
Undated MS note by C.F. Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, I, p.514.
Undated MS note by Bell (before 1936) in copy of Finberg 1930, Prints and Drawings Study Room, British Museum, London, p.164, as transcribed by Ian Warrell (undated notes, Tate catalogue files).
See Finberg 1930, p.37.
Ibid., p.34.
Warrell 2003, p.263 note 6.
Ibid., p.37
Ibid., p.34.
Ibid., pp.34, 37.
Ibid., p.37.
George 1984, p.10.
Warrell 2003, pp.83, 263 note 1.

Matthew Imms
March 2017

MS note by A.J. Finberg in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, I, p.514.

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