Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Molo and Columns from the Piazzetta, Venice, with the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) Opposite and San Giorgio Maggiore across the Bacino

1840

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 123 × 173 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D31838
Turner Bequest CCCXIII 24 a

Catalogue entry

Finberg later annotated his 1909 Inventory entry (‘The Molo, with part of Ducal Palace’): ‘D’s Pal. & 2 Cols. with S. Giorgio beyond. (looking out from Piazzetta)’.1 The Turner scholar C.F. Bell marked another copy: ‘The Piazzetta ... looking South between the columns’.2 With the page turned horizontally, the view is south-south-east from the west side of the Piazzetta, likely beside or even under one of the arches of the Libreria Sansoviniana, suggested by the cluster of vertical stokes on the right.
Opposite is the Molo end of the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace), and the church of San Giorgio Maggiore is shown on its island across the Bacino beyond St Theodore’s column towards the right. The two columns fade out towards the ground, and the palace appears too low in relation to the distant church, showing the awkwardness arising from Turner’s compression and manipulation of space as he explored compositional ideas even within a seemingly simple, direct sketch. He had such issues in a seemingly resolved, more detailed drawing from a similar viewpoint in the 1819 Milan to Venice sketchbook (Tate D14402; Turner Bequest CLXXV 46a); see also Tate D32414 (Turner Bequest CCCXX 77a) in the 1840 Rotterdam to Venice book.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

1
Undated MS note by Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, opposite p.1010.
2
Undated MS note by Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1010.

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