Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Grand Canal, Venice, near the Palazzo Mocenigo, with the Palazzo Foscari Beyond


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 221 × 320 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXV 1

Catalogue entry

The view is south-west along the Grand Canal from the north side, just east of the Traghetto San Tomà, off the Palazzo Dolfin, Palazzo Marcello dei Leoni and Rio di San Tomà. Receding in shadow on the left are the continuous Mocenigo palaces (associated with Lord Byron1) with the Palazzo Contarini delle Figure at the corner beyond. Facing east across the sharp bend to the left at the far end is the Ca’ Foscari (now housing the University of Venice), with the lower Palazzo Giustinian to its left and the entrance to the Rio di Ca’ Foscari in shade to its right. Coming forwards from that point on the right are the Palazzo Balbi (with its red roof), the central dormer window(s) of the small Palazzo Caotorta Angaran, the Palazzo Civran Grimani and the Palazzo Dandol Paolucci, shown in successively less detail.
Shipping is loosely indicated, moored to the left and right and off the Ca’ Foscari. The fall of the shadows indicates morning light from the south-east; dappled with reflected sunlight from the canal, they suggest a record from direct observation. Ian Warrell has described the works ‘restrained colouring’ as ‘closest to the freshness’ of Venetian watercolours by Turner’s short-lived contemporary Richard Parkes Bonington (1802–1828),2 stemming from his visit in 1826.3
Compare Turner’s colour study looking in the opposite direction (Tate D32136; Turner Bequest CCCXV 20). Warrell has noted the present page as among about half the views associated with this sketchbook depicting the ‘long canyon of palaces’ winding north and south of the Rialto Bridge along the ‘central part’ of the Grand Canal: D32117–D32119, D32123, D32131, D32132, D32134–D32137 (CCCXV 1, 2, 3, 7, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21).4 See also D32121, D32122 and D32124 (CCCXV 5, 6, 8), showing scenes near its north-west and south-east ends, and D32178 (CCCXVI 41), a central subject now also linked to the book. For sites beyond the Grand Canal, see the sketchbook’s Introduction.
See Warrell 2003, p.161.
See Evelyn Joll, ‘Bonington, Richard Parkes (1802–28)’, in Joll, Martin Butlin and Luke Herrmann (eds.), The Oxford Companion to J.M.W. Turner, Oxford 2001, p.27.
See Warrell 1995, p.108.
Blank; inscribed in red ink ‘Book No 13’ bottom left (now partly obscured by mount); inscribed in pencil ‘1’ circled centre; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram over ‘CCCXV – 1’ towards bottom left; inscribed in pencil ‘CCCXV.1’ and ‘D32117’ towards bottom right.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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