Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Dogana, Venice, across the Grand Canal, with the Zitelle Church on the 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 40

Catalogue entry

Finberg annotated his 1909 Inventory title (‘The Custom House, Venice’): ‘with the Citella’ (sic).1 The Turner scholar C.F. Bell marked another copy: ‘Zitelle in the distance Seminario to r’.2 Bell similarly extended Finberg’s title in his 1930 In Venice with Turner (‘The Dogana and Zitelle, from the calle beside the Europa Hotel’): ‘the Seminario on the right’.3
Looking south across the Grand Canal, the view is centred on the monumental porch of Venice’s customs house, the Dogana di Mare, with the dome and twin bell towers of the church of Le Zitelle (Santa Maria della Prezentatione) across the Giudecca Canal to the south-south-east. Turner’s low viewpoint was in front of the Palazzo (or Ca’) Giustinian, later the Hotel Europa, and can be recognised today from the stage outside what is now the headquarters of the Venice Biennale, while the Dogana now houses the Punta della Dogana contemporary art museum. In his 1930 book Finberg noted the detail towards the top right of a ‘naked lady ... holding a flag and standing on a ball supported by two giants’ as ‘an enlarged version of the gilt weathercock which surmounts the turret’.4 He observed that the ‘shape of the turret ... now seems to be wider and flatter at its base than in the drawing’, although Turner’s depiction agrees with earlier artists’, and assumed that the discrepancy was down to subsequent restoration.5
One of Turner’s handful of 1819 Venice watercolours in the Como and Venice sketchbook, Tate D15256 (Turner Bequest CLXXXI 6), shows the same view, and Andrew Wilton has suggested that the present drawing informed it;6 Ian Warrell has noted that the pencil study establishes ‘the essence’ of the view.7 The composition also equates to the right-hand half of the much later oil painting The Dogano, San Giorgio, Citella, from the Steps of the Europa, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1842 (Tate N00372).8 Whether the present drawing was necessarily a direct source has been debated: Martin Butlin has observed that the view would have been so familiar to Turner by then ‘that recourse to a drawing may not have been necessary’.9 A watercolour of about 1840, The New Moon (the Punta della Dogana, with the Zitelle Beyond) (private collection)10 is also comparable with the parameters of the present view.
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.163, as transcribed by Ian Warrell (undated notes, Tate catalogue files).
Finberg 1930, p.24.
Ibid., p.27.
Wilton 1975, p.52.
Warrell 1993, p.292; Warrell 1994, p.116.
Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.245–6 no.396, pl.400 (colour); see also Wilton 1975, p.52.
Butlin 1974, p.152, and Butlin and Joll 1984, p.245; see also George 1984, p.20 note 4, Stainton 1985, p.70, and Warrell 2003, p.207.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.464 no.1365; see also Butlin 1974, p.152, and Butlin and Joll 1984, p.245.
See Warrell 2003, pp.88 and 263 note 6, citing Stainton 1985, p.42.
Ibid., p.263 note 6; see also Warrell 2008, pp.57, 67 note 3.
Finberg 1930, p.27.

Matthew Imms
March 2017

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