Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace), Riva degli Schiavoni and Pietà from the Bacino, Venice, with Boats and Figures

1840

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite, watercolour, gouache and pen on paper
Dimensions
Support: 243 x 304 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D32154
Turner Bequest CCCXVI 17

Catalogue entry

The view is from the Bacino, about level with the Zecca (Mint), looking north-east to the corner of the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) facing the Piazzetta and the Molo. Beyond are the New Prisons, and the next prominent building is the Palazzo Dandolo (Hotel Danieli), now flanked by higher blocks; later buildings further east along the waterfront now largely mask the domed church of San Zaccaria from this direction.1 Towards the right is the then incomplete classical façade of the church of Santa Maria della Pietà.
Ian Warrell has informally linked the present watercolour with The Doge’s Palace and the Piazzetta (National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin)2 looking west-south-west past the palace, this time in the right foreground and silhouetted against the dazzle of the setting sun, towards the entrance of the Grand Canal. He has noted of the present work: ‘Like its companion, this watercolour is ablaze with the golden light of late afternoon, with shadows already obscuring the lower levels of the buildings as the sun catches only their highest western flanks.’3 Paying close attention to Turner’s treatment of the subject, in 1857 John Ruskin had described it: ‘Careless, but rich in subject, and showing attention to little things which escape artists who make more elaborate drawings: the exact look of the foreshortened lion on the pillar [at the far left], for instance, and the depression of the two last windows of the façade of the Ducal Palace.’4
The Dublin sheet is more consistently finished, whereas here the detail and handling become looser towards the right. Nevertheless, Lindsay Stainton has called it ‘among the most sumptuously coloured and densely worked’ of the Venice subjects remaining in the Turner Bequest,5 and Warrell has compared it in this respect with a contemporary colour study of the Arsenale (Tate D32164; Turner Bequest CCXVI 27).6 Robert Upstone observed that its ‘sumptuous golden colouring, crowded boats and figures, and the hazy, ethereal quality ... has something in common with many of the oils of Venice that Turner made in the 1840s’7 (see the Introduction to the tour).
1
See Warrell 2003, p.216.
2
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.463 no.1356, reproduced.
3
Warrell 2003, p.216.
4
Cook and Wedderburn 1904, p.210.
5
Stainton 1985, p.58.
6
See Warrell 1995, p.96.
7
Upstone 1993, p.35.
8
Warrell 1995, p.96.
9
Warrell 2003, p.216.
10
Stainton 1985, p.58.
11
See Warrell 1995, p.96.
12
See Hercules Brabazon (1821–1906), exhibition catalogue, Chris Beetles, London 1989, reproduced in colour p.[16], p.[45] no.16, as ‘Souvenir of Turner’.
1
Stainton 1985, p.58; see also Upstone 1993, p.35.
2
Warrell 2003, p.273.
3
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.
4
‘Appendix: The papers used for Turner’s Venetian Watercolours’ (1840, section 2) in Warrell 2003, p.259.
5
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.463 no.1356, reproduced.
6
Ibid., p.464 no.1365.
7
Warrell 2003, p.259.

Matthew Imms
July 2018

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