Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Entrance of the Arsenale, Venice, from the Rio dell’Arsenale


Not on display
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 112 x 185 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXV 55

Catalogue entry

The Turner scholar C.F. Bell annotated Finberg’s 1909 Inventory entry (‘Entrance to the Arsenal’): ‘from across the Rio dell’Arsenal [sic]’.1 Bell similarly marked Finberg’s 1930 In Venice with Turner (1930).2 Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, the view is north from the east bank of the Rio dell’Arsenale, with the Campo Arsenale and its elaborate stone gateway on the opposite side.
Turner did not linger to draw the entrance’s matching right-hand tower in any detail, and its outline is only roughly indicated to the right of the masts. Ian Warrell has suggested that the ‘presence of Austrian soldiers near the entrance to the Arsenale, and probably throughout the whole complex, may have discouraged Turner from making more than a couple of pencil sketches’3 over the course of his visits to Venice; there are swift studies in the 1833 Venice sketchbook (Tate D32027, D32063; Turner Bequest CCCXIV 52, 73) and an evocation in watercolour made in about 1840 (Tate D32164; Turner Bequest CCCXVI 27).
For an overview of Turner’s coverage of Venice, see the sketchbook’s Introduction.

Matthew Imms
March 2017

Undated MS note by C.F. Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, I, p.514.
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).
Warrel p.126.

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