Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Grand Canal, Venice, with the Rialto Bridge beyond Palazzi Including the Grimani and Papadopoli


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 112 × 185 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXV 73

Catalogue entry

Turner’s note ‘Tragetto di S Benetto’ indicates his viewpoint here, about level with the Calle Traghetto Vecchio on the south side of the Grand Canal, looking north-east to the Rialto Bridge and the Fondaco dei Tedeschi at the bend beyond; above the roofs on the right is the campanile of San Bartolomeo. The tallest of the buildings shown complete on the right is the Palazzo Grimani di San Luca, now Venice’s Appeal Court, while those beyond include the Ca’ Farsetti and Ca’ Loredan along the Riva del Carbon, with the Palazzo Dolfin Manin immediately below the tower. Coming forwards below the Grimani in the right foreground are the Palazzi Corner Contarini dei Cavalli, Tron and D’Anna Viaro Martinengo Volpi di Misurata.1
The view continues directly to the left along the north side of the canal across what is now folio 74 recto (D14456). Unfortunately, in the course of restoring the numerous pages extracted from this sketchbook for display at the National Gallery in the nineteenth century, this leaf was misbound, presumably during general Turner Bequest restoration work at the British Museum after the Tate Gallery flood in 1928 (see the technical notes in the sketchbook’s Introduction for a full listing of the exhibited leaves). This drawing has been bound as the recto, whereas it should be the verso, inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation and directly continuous with D14456. The presence of John Ruskin’s inscriptions ‘73’ and ‘300’, now upside down at the corners of the verso, ought to have been an indication, as such numbers appear in sequence on the rectos of undisturbed pages. The whole composition was reproduced from pre-flood photographs in Finberg’s In Venice with Turner, retouched to remove the division between the pages, themselves untitled there but with the watercolour based on them (as discussed below) reproduced beneath as ‘The Rialto, 1820. Water-colour in the collection of Major F.H. Fawkes. With the pencil sketch from nature’.2
This page and the inner half of D14456 were the direct source for the watercolour The Rialto, Venice (Indianapolis Museum of Art)3 which Turner made in 1820 or 1821 for his friend and major patron Walter Fawkes of Farnley Hall in Yorkshire4 among other Venetian and Italian scenes;5 it is listed in the 1821 Paris, Seine and Dieppe sketchbook (Tate D18540; Turner Bequest CCXI 10). Finberg noted that ‘the pencil sketch is more accurate than the water-colour. The design is somewhat similar to that of the Hakewill engraving.’6 This is a reference to the composition Turner had produced in watercolour (currently untraced)7 which was engraved in 1820 for James Hakewill’s Picturesque Tour of Italy (Tate impression: T06012; for the project in general, see Nicola Moorby’s overall Introduction to the tour) as The Rialto, Venice. As with other Italian subjects predating the present tour, Turner had interpreted Hakewill’s 1817 drawing, but he made detailed sketch of his own from a similar viewpoint nearer the bridge on folios 48 verso–49 recto (D14406–D14407); the Hakewill subject is discussed under D14406.
See Finberg 1930, p.46.
Finberg 1930, p.XIII.
Andrew Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979, p.383 no.718, pl.156, citing Turner’s drawing from nearer the bridge (folios 48 verso–49 recto; D14406–D14407) as the source.
See also Finberg 1930, p.46, Stainton 1985, p.52, Krause 1997, p.140, and Warrell 2003, pp.101, 263 note 6.
Wilton 1979, p.383 nos.719–724.
Finberg 1930, p.71.
Wilton 1979, p.381 no.700.
See Finberg 1930, p.71; see also Krause 1997, p.140.
Warrell 2003, p.101.
Lindsay Stainton, Turner’s Venice, London 1985, p.17.
See Finberg 1930, p.71.
Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.219–20 no.368, pl.373 (colour).
Ibid.; see also George 1984, p.20 note 4, Warrell 1995, p.108, 2001, p.146, and Warrell 2003, p.74.
See Wark 1971, pp.125–6, figs.96 and 97; see also Wark 2001, pp.121, 123, figs.96 and 97.
See Warrell 2003, pp.74, 151; see also Stainton 1985, pp.51–2 no.37, and Wilton 1986, p.244.
See Finberg 1909, I, p.515.
See Cook and Wedderburn 1904, pp.303–4 nos.253–264, and p.636 no.602.
E.T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn eds., Library Edition: The Works of John Ruskin: Volume XXXVIII: Bibliograghy; Catalogue of Ruskin’s Drawings; Addenda et Corrigenda, London 1912, p.388.
Undated MS note by A.J. Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, I, opposite p.515.
MS note by A.J. Finberg in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, I, p.515.

Matthew Imms
March 2017

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