Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Columns of the Piazzetta, Venice, with the Dogana, and the Churches of the Zitelle and Redentore across the Canale della Giudecca Beyond


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 52

Catalogue entry

Finberg subsequently annotated his 1909 Inventory entry (‘View between the columns in the Piazzetta’): ‘with S. Giorgio, Citella [sic] & Dogana beyond’.1 The Turner scholar C.F. Bell marked another copy: ‘looking towards the Dogana & Giudecca’.2 Conversely, Bell marked Finberg’s 1930 In Venice with Turner entry (‘The Dogana and Giudecca, from the Molo’): ‘seen between the columns’.3
The view is to the south-west near the waterfront entrance of the Piazzetta, with the Dogana to the right beyond across the mouth of the Grand Canal, and the domes of the Redentore and Zitelle churches at the centre and left respectively on the Giudecca in the distance. The Biblioteca Marciana (Libreria Sansoviniana)’s Piazzetta façade is only lightly indicated beyond the far column, with what appears to be a detail of the obscured section towards the top right. As Finberg noted,4 the subject shares a similar viewpoint, albeit looking in a different direction, to the view towards St Mark’s Square on folio 51 verso opposite (D14412).
Turner appears to have been more concerned to get the details of the nearer column’s capital and statue of the lion of St Mark in at the top of the page from a steep angle than with the correct perspective of the columns themselves, which are of similar heights, and only lightly indicates the shaft as if to remind himself of this enforced disparity. Richard Parkes Bonington’s more spatially resolved assured upright 1827 painting (exhibited in 1828) View of the Piazzetta near the Square of St Mark (Tate N00374) shows a similar view to Turner’s. Compare also the sketch of the columns from another direction on folio 46 verso (D14402), where difficulty with the perspective is again evident.
For other drawings made in the vicinity and an overview of Turner’s coverage of Venice, see the sketchbook’s Introduction.

Matthew Imms
March 2017

Undated MS note by A.J. Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, I, p.513.
Undated MS note by C.F. Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, I, p.513.
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).

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