The Turner scholar C.F. Bell annotated Finberg’s 1909 Inventory entry (‘Grand Canal and Campanile’): ‘No scaffold’ and ‘not the Grand Canal, rather the Canale di San Marco’.1 Although there is some pencil work along the waterfront buildings here, the detail is somewhat indistinct and selective. The viewpoint is the Bacino off the heavily articulated Zecca (Mint) and the Libreria Sansoviniana towards the left, with the campanile of San Marco (St Mark’s) beyond to the north. The squarish bulk of the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) follows, left of centre on the opposite side of the entrance to the Piazzetta from the Molo. The domed church of San Zaccaria can be made out further along, above the Riva degli Schiavoni; compare the skyline of Tate D32154 (Turner Bequest CCCXVI 17), a contemporary colour study of a busy evening scene on the water.
A rosy sunset effect pervades the work, catching the high clouds with golden light enhanced by touches of stronger orange. The complementary area below the centre appears to be an extremely diffuse suggestion of shipping and its reflection. Andrew Wilton has compared the ‘blurred washes of yellow and pink’ in a nearby scene (D32163; CCCXVI 26) among numerous Venice colour studies ‘which use similar colours in a comparable manner’, albeit the effect is ‘extreme reticence and simplicity’ in the present work.2
The harmonious, mellow effect is not all intentional, as the sheet appears to have yellowed and the colours to have faded commensurately during prolonged early display;1 fresher strips, once protected by a mount, can be made out around the margins, and the darker pink of the central band is stronger at the left-hand edge.
This is one of numerous 1840 Venice works Ian Warrell has noted as on sheets of ‘white paper produced [under the name] Charles Ansell,2 each measuring around 24 x 30 cm, several watermarked with the date “1828”’:3 Tate D32138–D32139, D32141–D32143, D32145–D32147, D32154–D32163, D32167–D32168, D32170–D32177, D35980, D36190 (Turner Bequest CCCXVI 1, 2, 4–6, 8–10, 17–26, 30, 31, 33–40, CCCLXIV 137, 332). Warrell has also observed that The Doge’s Palace and Piazzetta, Venice (National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin)4 and Venice: The New Moon (currently untraced)5 ‘may belong to this group’.6
Albeit Peter Bower, Turner’s Later Papers: A Study of the Manufacture, Selection and Use of his Drawing Papers 1820–1851, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999, p.81, notes that the Muggeridge family had taken over after 1820, still using the ‘C Ansell’ watermark.
‘Appendix: The papers used for Turner’s Venetian Watercolours’ (1840, section 2) in Warrell 2003, p.259.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.463 no.1356, reproduced.
Ibid., p.464 no.1365.
Warrell 2003, p.259.