Joseph Mallord William Turner

?The Grand Canal, Venice, North of the Rialto Bridge

1840

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 220 × 287 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D32234
Turner Bequest CCCXVIII 15

Catalogue entry

The Turner scholar C.F. Bell annotated Finberg’s noncommittal 1909 Inventory entry (‘Buildings’): ‘The Erberia & Rialto from the fondamenta in front of the Fondago de’ Tedeschi’ (sic).1 This suggestion appears to be the basis of the titles adopted when the sheet was exhibited in 1937 and 1958.2 The work was not discussed in Ian Warrell’s near-comprehensive Turner and Venice catalogue, beyond a general technical note (see below).
The loosely but confidently worked composition has the air of a recollection from memory. Assuming the setting is not completely improvised, it possibly evokes a view from the east side of the bend of the Grand Canal north-east of the Rialto Bridge, off the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, as Bell suggested; this would entail a pictorial compression with the bridge at the left, the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi, with its chamfered east front on the bend, and the Fabbriche Nuove beyond the Erberia to the right, with a suggestion of the Campanile of San Giovanni Elemosinario. Compare the right-hand half with the more conventional watercolour study in this grouping (Tate D32149; Turner Bequest CCCXVI 12). The 1819 Milan to Venice sketchbook includes a detailed pencil drawing of the bridge and the palace from a viewpoint similar to that tentatively proposed here (Tate D14463; Turner Bequest CLXXV 77a).
1
Undated MS note by Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1027.
2
See Binyon 1937, p.28, and Eight Centuries of Landscape, exhibition catalogue 1958, p.25.
Technical notes:
White gouache highlights have been freely applied. Finberg later annotated his 1909 Inventory entry: ‘note rather harsh green’.1 This colour remains prominent towards the centre left and in the reflections at the bottom left.
This is one of numerous 1840 Venice works Ian Warrell has noted as being on ‘Grey wove [paper], with a textured surface, produced by an unknown maker’ mostly measuring around 218 x 285 mm:2 Tate D32222, D32234–D32236, D32243–D32244 (Turner Bequest CCCXVIII 3, 15–17, 24, 25).
1
Undated MS note by Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1027.
2
‘Appendix: The papers used for Turner’s Venetian Watercolours’ (1840, section 12) in Warrell 2003, p.259; see also Bower 1999, p.112 under no.65.
Verso:
Blank; inscribed by Turner in ink ‘19’ bottom right, inverted; inscribed in pencil ‘48’ above centre, ascending vertically; inscribed in pencil ‘S’ centre; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram over ‘CCCXVIII – 15’ bottom left; inscribed in pencil ‘D32234’ below centre; inscribed in pencil ‘CCCXVIII.15’ and ‘D32234’ towards bottom right. For Turner’s ink numbering of many similar sheets, see the Introduction to the tour.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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