Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Grand Canal, Venice, from under the Rialto Bridge, Looking towards the Palazzo Grimani


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 80 a

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, the drawing continues on folio 81 recto opposite (D14470). Finberg subsequently annotated his 1909 Inventory entry, bracketing ‘80a’ and ‘81’: ‘V. from Rialto looking twds P. Grimani. – Riva del Vino on right, with Cerroni & Tollotti Palaces on right, and Manin, Bembo, Riva del Carbon, & Loredan, Farsetti on left, with Grimani Palace in distance’.1 The Turner scholar C.F. Bell marked pages ‘80a | 81’ in another copy: ‘from the canal opposite the Pescheria looking N.W.’2 The restoration of several previously exhibited pages (see the technical notes in the sketchbook’s Introduction) has led to particular confusion in the case of folios 80 and 81; see the entry for D14470, which was one of them.
The continuous view here and on D14470 is south-west along the Grand Canal from directly under the single arch of the Rialto Bridge, of which there are faint, arcing indications at the top corners. On this page are buildings along the Riva del Vin, the general character of which appears little changed, although the tall building at the centre has lost its prominent canal-front chimney. In 1930 Finberg described ‘the quaint shapes of the boats laden with wood, casks of wine, reeds, and Heaven knows what, that were crowded along the quays on either side’ below Turner’s prospect of ‘what was once the Barbarigo palace, and is now I think the Caffè Rossarol, to the traghetto S. Silvestro, which was as far as he could see’.3 He compared the view with an engraving after Canaletto’s painting Venice: the Grand Canal from the Rialto to the Palazzo Foscari of about 1725–6 (Royal Collection, Hampton Court) ‘to see how few and slight were the alterations in the buildings which had been made in the intervening century. The points of view are nearly the same, but the line of sight is different, Canaletto’s view having been taken from the summit of the bridge, while Turner’s drawing must have been made from a boat’.4
Probably not long after his return from Italy in 1820, Turner developed this view in a very large but unfinished painting, The Rialto Venice (Tate N05543),5 now in poor condition, but likely intended as a companion piece6 to the identically sized and even more spatially ambitious Rome, from the Vatican, exhibited in that year (Tate N00503).7 There is also an unfinished watercolour of The Grand Canal from below the Rialto Bridge, Venice (National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin),8 possibly intended for his friend and patron Walter Fawkes9 to complement the view towards the bridge in The Rialto, Venice of 1820 or 1821 (Indianapolis Museum of Art),10 based on folios 73 recto and 74 recto (D14455–D14456).
Undated MS note by A.J. Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, I, opposite p.515.
Undated MS note by C.F. Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, I, p.515.
Finberg 1930, p.49.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.152 no.245, pl.248.
See ibid., p.152.
Ibid., pp.137–8 no.228, pl.231 (colour).
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.383 no.725, pl.160.
See ibid., Barbara Dawson, Turner in the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin 1988, p.105, Warrell 2003, pp.101, 263 note 8, and Niamh Mac Nally in Anne Hodge and Mac Nally, The Works of J.M.W. Turner at the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin 2012, pp.64, 66.
Ibid., p.383 no.718, pl.156.

Matthew Imms
March 2017

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