Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Dogana, Venice, across the Grand Canal from the Steps of the Hotel Europa (Palazzo Giustinian) at Night

1840

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Chalk, gouache and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 232 × 312 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D32238
Turner Bequest CCCXVIII 19

Catalogue entry

In the left foreground appears to be a simplified version of the arched entrance of the Palazzo Giustinian (Hotel Europa), flanked in reality by smaller, pedimented doorways, with light catching the curved edges of steps below. Turner was staying there on this occasion; see the Introduction to this subsection. Broad, curving stones are shown in the right foreground of the evening scene in the oil painting The Dogano, San Giorgio, Citella, from the Steps of the Europa, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1842 (Tate N00372);1 if such steps survive, they are now obscured beneath the substantial wooden platform running the length of the frontage.
Compare two similarly lit scenes from around the entrance to the Calle del Ridotto on the east side of the hotel, above the traghetto landing stage of the same name (shown here as rather ramshackle), looking south-west towards Santa Maria della Salute along the canal beyond the Dogana (Tate D32230, D32232; Turner Bequest CCCXVIII 11, 13); see also a related view of the Dogana and Salute by the light of a rocket (D32248; CCCXVIII 29).2
1
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).
2
See also Warrell 2003, pp.132, 264 note 12.
Technical notes:
The strong turquoise blue of the sky appears scratched or rubbed, possibly for deliberate variety of effect. This is one of numerous 1840 Venice works Ian Warrell has noted as being on ‘Red-brown paper made at Cartieri Pietro Milani Mill, Fabriano, with a watermark showing the letter “M” accompanied by laurel leaves:1 Tate D32224, D32227, D32230, D32238–D32241, D32245–D32246, D32248, D32251, D32254 (Turner Bequest CCCXVIII 5, 8, 11, 19–22, 26, 27, 29, CCCXIX 3, 6). As Warrell has observed; the support ‘seems to be quite absorbent, so that the colours penetrate through to the back of the sheet’.2
1
‘Appendix: The papers used for Turner’s Venetian Watercolours’ (1840, section 9) in Warrell 2003, p.259; see also see also 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.111 under no.64; and Warrell 2003, p.259, sections 10 and 11, for other likely Italian (possibly Fabriano) brown papers.
2
Ibid., section 9.
Verso:
Blank, with staining from the dark colours of the recto (see the technical comments above); inscribed by Turner in ink ‘25’ bottom right, upside down; inscribed in pencil ‘Solid’ above right of centre; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram over ‘CCCXVIII – 19’ bottom left; inscribed in pencil ‘CCCXVIII.18’ and ‘D32238’ towards bottom right. For Turner’s ink numbering of many similar sheets, see the Introduction to the tour.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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