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).
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.
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.