Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Grand Canal, Venice, with the Palazzo Foscari and Mocenigo Palaces


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 126 × 198 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCX 4 a

Catalogue entry

With the page turned horizontally and the gutter at the foot, the main view is west-south-west along the familiar reach of the Grand Canal1 towards the Palazzo Foscari, just left of centre, overlooking the sharp bend to the left. To its right is the Palazzo Balbi, with its twin obelisks, and rough indications of the Palazzi Crivan Grimani and Dandolo Paolucci on the right. Looming on the left is the sequence of adjoining Mocenigo palaces. Compare the colour study in the contemporary Grand Canal and Giudecca sketchbook (Tate D32117; Turner Bequest CCCXV 1), from about the same point along the canal but from nearer the north side. There is a view of the back of the Foscari on folio 5 recto opposite (D31285).
Ian Warrell has plausibly suggested that this relatively slight drawing was the source of a hazily atmospheric, unfinished oil painting which he has called a ‘Scene in Venice, probably looking down the Grand Canal from alongside the Palazzo Mocenigo’ and dated to about 1844 (Tate N05488),2 noting that with the Mocenigo’s links with the renowned poet Byron, the subject ‘would have been a good commercial choice’.3
Presumably drawn later, two views in the sky, inverted and at right angles to the first, show buildings and bridges, likely elsewhere in Venice but as yet unidentified. As noted in the sketchbook’s Introduction, the Venice views on its early pages are intermingled with German sketches from Turner’s return journey.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

See Warrell 2003, p.92.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.396 no.503, as ‘Scene in Venice’, c.1840–5, pl.503 (colour).
Warrell 2003, p.161; for the painting, see p.271 no.56, and fig.168 (colour).

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