Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Grand Canal, Venice, with the Rialto Bridge from near the Albergo Leon Bianco (Palazzo Cavalli)


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 48 a

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, the view is to the north-east along the Grand Canal, from the point where the Calle Cavalli runs off the waterside Riva del Carbon. The buildings on the north side are continued about half-way across folio 49 recto opposite (D14407), where there is also a separate continuation of the foreground shown here along the south side, as noted below.
Finberg subsequently annotated his 1909 Inventory entry (‘The Rialto, with the east side of the Grand Canal’): ‘Bldgs. from right, beginning with Pal. Farsetti (then Auberge de la Grande Bretagne), then P. Loredan, Enrico Dandolo, Bembo & Manin (just under Church tower)’.1 In his 1930 book In Venice with Turner he similarly noted the ‘Farsetti, Loredan, Enrico Dandolo, Bembo and Manin palaces. The tower of S[an] Bartolomeo rises immediately above the latter palace’,2 now known as the Dolfin Manin. Beyond the bridge is the Fondaco dei Tedeschi. Finberg observed that ‘even in this sketch, which was made primarily for the sake of the buildings, Turner gives precedence to the shipping. The boats with their sails on the left of the Rialto must have been drawn before the buildings which form their background were put in’.3 Presumably, with limited time and much to record in Venice, Turner was not at leisure to wait for vessels to move on and leave a clear view of the buildings beyond.
The small waterside pavilions in front of the Loredan do not survive, while the lower part of the Farsetti’s façade now comprises a more regular sequence of arches than Turner recorded.4 Beyond the outer edge of the page in the immediate foreground to the right would be the Palazzo Cavalli (or Corner Martinengo Ravà), then the Albergo Leon Bianco, where Turner was staying on this first visit to Venice;5 it is now a civic building. The Route to Rome sketchbook Turner carried with him on this tour includes travel notes by James Hakewill (see below). Before listing various places and pictures to see, Hakewill noted: ‘Venice – Go to the Leone Bianco | on the grand Canal’ (Tate D13903; Turner Bequest CLXXI 24). As Finberg noted (see above), the Ca’ Farsetti was also a hotel at that time, known as the Auberge de la Grande Bretagne or Albergo Gran Bretagna;6 within a few years it had been acquired by the city,7 and is now a registry office.8 The signage apparently then at its near end is recorded as a separate detail inverted on D14407 opposite, along with the north-east corner of the Leon Bianco.
Undated MS note by A.J. Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, I, opposite p.513.
Finberg 1930, p.164.
Ibid., p.34.
Compare Dionisio Moretti’s 1828 engraving, Warrell 2003, fig.4.
See Warrell 2003, pp.16, 17, and fig.4, where the palazzo is captioned as the hotel.
See Finberg 1930, p.20 for the Italian form.
Hamilton 2009, p.40, appears to conflate the two, noting the ‘Albergo Leone Bianco, which [Turner] described beside a sketch of part of the building [D14407], as “The Inn of Great Britain”’ as ‘now the City of Venice Registry of Births, Marriages, Divorces and Deaths’.
Wilton 1979, p.381 no.700.
See Warrell 2003, pp.49–50 and figs.31, 29, 30 (respectively the engraving, Hakewill’s drawing and Turner’s outline).
Finberg 1930, p.33.
Wilton 1979, p.383 no.718, pl.156; Wilton gives the present page and its continuation as the source.
See Finberg 1930, p.46.

Matthew Imms
March 2017

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