Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Grand Canal, Venice, near the Accademia, with Santa Maria della Salute in the Distance


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 223 × 325 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXV 15

Catalogue entry

The viewpoint is along the south side of the south-western bend of the Grand Canal, looking east. Part of the Palazzo Giustinian Lolin is shown on the far left, with the Palazzo Civran Badoer Barozzi beside it. The Campo San Vidal follows, with the campanile of the church at the far end. The Ponte dell’Accademia now springs across the middle distance from here. Next come the Palazzi Cavalli-Franchetti and Barbaro before the straight reach terminating in the domes of Santa Maria della Salute on the opposite side. On the far right, less clearly defined, appears to be the Accademia (Santa Maria della Carità), with the Palazzo Brandolin Rota and others beyond.
Tate D32210 (Turner Bequest CCCXVII 25) is a slightly smaller 1840 colour study on grey paper showing much the same view, with slight variations in the architectural juxtapositions.1 Turner had made a detailed pencil drawing from nearby in the 1819 Milan to Venice sketchbook (Tate D14448–D14449; Turner Bequest CLXXV 69a–70). The network of often loose pencil outlines in the present work, including indications of the sails and hulls of shipping, combined with the selective use of brown and grey wash to indicate shadows in the strong sunlight of what appears to be early afternoon, gives a sense of spontaneity combined with sufficient precision to suggest that colour was applied at least in part while moored at the scene.
Nevertheless, Finberg criticised the varied handling, suggesting that Turner’s ‘powers of concentration were quickly exhausted’ by complex Grand Canal scenes such as this and another page of this sketchbook, D32136 (CCCXV 20): ‘As soon as he had established the tower of S. Vitale, ... his interest seems to have petered out, and nearly everything else ... is left vague and confused.’2 As Ian Warrell has noted, the viewpoint is about the same as that used for a prospect north along the canal towards the Palazzo Balbi elsewhere in the present book (D32134; CCCXV 18).3 See also the more developed watercolour looking south to The Accademia from the Grand Canal beyond numerous boats and figures (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford),4 on a similar leaf from the contemporary ‘Storm’ sketchbook (discussed in the present book’s Introduction).
See Warrell 2003, p.164.
Finberg 1930, p.125.
See Warrell 2003, p.161.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.464 no.1366, reproduced.
See Warrell 1995, p.108.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

Undated note by Ian Warrell, Tate catalogue files.

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