Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Dogana and Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, across the Grand Canal from the Hotel Europa (Palazzo Giustinian) at Twilight


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on paper
Support: 194 × 280 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXVI 29

Catalogue entry

The view is south across the Grand Canal through the open porch of the Dogana facing the Bacino towards the left, with the Zitelle church on the Isola della Giudecca in the distance. Turner has laterally compressed the long north front of the Dogana to about half its actual relative width, bringing in the Seminario Patriarcale above it at the centre, with the domes of the church of Santa Maria della Salute rising to the south-west, catching the last rays of the sun or the afterglow of the still bright sky on the right. The low viewpoint is near the water level, and the pencil outline was sketched in the vicinity of the entrance to the Hotel Europa (the Palazzo Giustinian), where Turner was staying; see the Introduction to this subsection. Compare detailed pencil drawings of the Dogana and Salute from this spot in the 1819 Milan to Venice sketchbook (Tate D14389, D14417; Turner Bequest CLXXV 40, 54).
Watercolour washes and the fine lines of ink or watercolour, likely drawn with a pen to further articulate the architecture, could possibly have been applied while watching the sunset effect from the Europa’s roof, but not directly from Turner’s bedroom high on a corner away from the canal. As Robert Upstone has observed: ‘Colour has been dragged down to provide the magical reflection’.1 Evelyn Joll has called the result ‘a drawing of exceptional delicacy’.2
Albeit with its wider scope including the Salute, the left-hand half of this study acts fortuitously as an evening equivalent to the well-known 1819 watercolour of the Dogana in the Como and Venice sketchbook (Tate D15256; Turner Bequest CLXXXI 6), with its fresh early morning light. A similar evening mood suffuses an 1840 view of the church of San Giorgio Maggiore (Tate D32165; Tate CCCXVI 28), which itself has a near-equivalent morning counterpart in the 1819 sketchbook (Tate D15254; Turner Bequest CLXXXI 4). Like the earlier pages, the two 1840 sheets form an approximate panorama, resolved in the 1842 painting The Dogano, San Giorgio, Citella, from the Steps of the Europa (Tate N00372).3 The present work and D32166 were paired in the early National Gallery display selected from the Turner Bequest; writing in 1857, John Ruskin noted they were ‘used by him as materials in his late Venetian paintings’.4
Upstone 1993, p.37.
Joll 1993, p.12.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.245–6 no.396, pl.400 (colour).
Cook and Wedderburn 1904, p.296; see also Warrell 2003, p.207.
See Warrell 2003, p.168.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.464 no.1368.
See Warrell 2003, p.171.
Wilton 1979, p.464 no.1365.
See Warrell 2003, p.207.
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 1) in Warrell 2003, p.259; see also p.138.
Not in Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979; Warrell 2003, fig.148 (colour).
Warrell 2003, p.259; see Bower 1999, pp.105–7 under no.59.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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