Drawn with the page turned horizontally, the view in this relatively rare sketch of a quiet side canal is west from the junction of the Rio dell’Albero, in the left foreground, with the Rio delle Veste, within the labyrinth of canals and alleys west of the Piazza San Marco and not far north-west of the Hotel Europa (Palazzo Giustinian), where Turner was staying.
The cornice towards the top right marks the chamfered south-western corner of the Fenice opera house, then recently rebuilt and reopened after the fire of 1836, again destroyed by fire in 1996 and reopened in 2003;1 see the parallel subsection of interiors including a theatre and possible theatrical figure scenes, which may explain Turner’s interest in the present subject.
The other buildings remain much the same. The bridge in the foreground is now the Ponte Maria Callas, after the renowned singer. In his Inventory, Finberg described the subject as a ‘Canal, with Campanile of S. Maurizio in distance’;2 this is an inadvertent slip, as the tower looming over the scene, albeit close to that church, actually belongs to the neighbouring Santo Stefano. Often seen on the skyline in Turner’s wider prospects of the city, it is one of the three seen from his bedroom in a contemporary watercolour (Tate D32140; Turner Bequest CCCXVI 3).
See ‘La Storia’, Teatro La Fenice di Venezia, accessed 2 February 2018, http://www
.teatrolafenice. .it /site /index .php ?pag =73
Finberg 1909, II, p.1010.
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