Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, with the Church and Campanile


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 66 a

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, the view is east-south-east across the Bacino to the west front of the church of San Giorgio Maggiore, on the island of the same name, and is continued briefly on folio 67 recto opposite (D14443). The carefully articulated alignment of the various buildings indicates a viewpoint at the entrance to the Grand Canal, off the Punta della Dogana. Finberg subsequently annotated his 1909 Inventory entry (‘Isola di S. Giorgio Maggiore’): ‘S. Giorgio from the Grand Canal’.1 In another copy he wrote: ‘from Dogana’.2 The Turner scholar C.F. Bell annotated another copy: ‘from a point facing the front of the church’.3
Finberg subsequently suggested the viewpoint was the same as that for the view of the church of the Madonna della Salute on folio 54 verso (D14417), outside the Palazzo (or Ca’) Giustinian.4 He noted: ‘If it is my duty to find faults where I can, I will admit that I think the size of the dome is exaggerated. Apart from this the drawing to me seems perfect of its kind’.5
While Lindsay Stainton has observed6 that Tate D15254 (Turner Bequest CLXXXI 4), a watercolour of San Giorgio in the contemporary Como and Venice sketchbook, together with another showing the Dogana, Tate D15256 (Turner Bequest CLXXXI 6), effectively form a panorama foreshadowing the oil painting The Dogano, San Giorgio, Citella, from the Steps of the Europa, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1842 (Tate N00372),7 Ian Warrell has noted that this drawing, in conjunction with other pages in this sketchbook showing views effectively following on to the right on folios 40 recto and 54 verso (D14389, D14417), could have been utilised.8 The comparative inaccuracies of D15254 in proportion and detail might suggest it was done spontaneously to catch the effects of light and atmosphere, rather than following the present pencil outline.
There is a much slighter drawing from a similar angle on folio 50 recto (D14409); a detail of the top of the campanile is shown on folio 60 recto (D14429). For other drawings made in the vicinity and an overview of Turner’s coverage of Venice, see the sketchbook’s Introduction.

Matthew Imms
March 2017

Undated MS note by A.J. Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, I, opposite p.514.
Undated MS note by Finberg in copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, I, p.514.
Undated MS note by C.F. Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, I, p.514.
Finberg 1930, p.37.
See Warrell 2003, pp.88 and 263 note 6, citing Lindsay Stainton, Turner’s Venice, London 1985, p.42.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.245–6 no.396, pl.400 (colour).
Warrell 2003, p.263 note 6; see also Warrell 2008, pp.57, 67 note 3.

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