Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Entrance to the Grand Canal, Venice, beneath Storm Clouds, with San Giorgio Maggiore across the Bacino beyond the Dogana


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 123 × 173 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXIII 61

Catalogue entry

This two-part view was drawn with the page turned horizontally. Finberg later annotated his 1909 Inventory entry (‘The Dogana, &c.’): ‘From Mouth Gd. Canal. S. Giorgio in distance’.1 The left foreground is not shown in detail, but the viewpoint is likely somewhere off the Palazzo Badoer Tiepolo (now the Westin Europa & Regina Hotel), with the porch of the Dogana framing the south side of the Grand Canal on the right, and repeated in the upper continuation, with the rest of the long, low building and the Seminario Patriarcale to its right below a curve marking the main dome of Santa Maria della Salute. To the left of the porch in the main view, the campanile and dome of San Giorgio Maggiore are seen to the east-south-east beyond shipping moored in the Bacino.
The view, from not far west of the Hotel Europa (Palazzo Giustinian) where Turner was staying, was long familiar; compare a sketch in the 1819 Milan to Venice book (Tate D14434; Turner Bequest CLXXV 62a). Folios 53 recto and 59 verso (D31894, D31907) show similar prospects. This one is distinguished by the inclusion of heavy cloud and looping near-vertical strokes which seem to indicate a downpour. Ian Warrell has noted this as a sign that ‘Turner was subjected to the scirocco winds, which bring sudden and sustained inundations during the long summer days in Venice’, with this page and folio 60 recto (D31908), a slight study likely including the Salute across the canal, being ‘quite specific in documenting the unexpected arrival of lowering clouds and driving rain.’2
Tate D33883 (Turner Bequest CCCXLI 183), a contemporary pencil and chalk study on grey paper, shows the Salute and the Dogana in such conditions. Rain is also falling in the waterfront view on folio 63 verso (D31915), and there are numerous watercolours from the dispersed ‘Storm’ sketchbook evoking dramatic weather over the Grand Canal and Bacino (see the Introductions to the tour and the Grand Canal and Giudecca sketchbook; Tate; Turner Bequest CCCXV).

Matthew Imms
September 2018

Undated MS note by Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1011.
Warrell 2003, pp.119, 263 note 5.

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