Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Dogana and Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, towards Sunset, with Gondolas at the Entrance of the Grand Canal


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 244 × 307 mm
mount: 409 × 562 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXVI 37

Catalogue entry

The Turner scholar C.F. Bell annotated Finberg’s 1909 Inventory entry (‘Grand Canal and the Salute’): ‘from the Grand Canal looking East, a wild fantasy’.1 The composition is admittedly rather provisional and indistinct in places, but the juxtaposition of the Baroque domes and campanili of Santa Maria della Salute and the long, low Dogana below to terminating in the distinctive porch overlooking the Bacino and Canale della Giudecca on the left, suggest a rational view to the south-west.
This is effectively a variation of Tate D32166 (Turner Bequest CCCXVI 29), a more resolved and detailed contemporary view south across the Grand Canal at twilight from the Hotel Europa (the Palazzo Giustinian), where Turner was staying. Ian Warrell has linked the present work with others demonstrating ‘Turner’s fondness for [the] moorings at the eastern end of the Giudecca canal, on the far side of the point (D32147, D32163, D32170, D32172; CCCXVI 10, 26, 33, 35), ‘some of his most delicate studies of Venice, faintly developed in thinly coloured washes’.2 He has paired it in particular with D32163, from just off the Dogana looking along to the southern end of the church in ‘the softer fading light of the late afternoon’, while here ‘the church is indistinctly shrouded above a sugary pink expanse representing the [Dogana] warehouse buildings, and these evanescent colours give greater vigour to the dark outline of a gondolier plying his craft’3 in the cool, greenish foreground, already enveloped in shadow.
Warrell has noted that ‘the same pink appears’ in D32175 (CCCXVI 38),4 a view north from the Bacino. Leo Costello has discussed this work among others showing energetic gondoliers;5 two are shown here as little more than dots and dashes, yet their characteristic leaning action is immediately conveyed. Turner has scrawled an enigmatic note relating to boats on the verso (D40176). Compare also the sunset scene in the watercolour of The Grand Canal, with Santa Maria della Salute, from near the Hotel Europa,6 where the Salute is shown to more ghostly effect, its domes again catching the last rays from the right.
Undated MS note by Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1021.
Warrell 2003, p.181.
Ibid., p.264 note 7.
See Costello 2012, p.192.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.464 no.1368; Warrell 2003, fig.183 (colour).

Matthew Imms
July 2018

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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