Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace), Venice, with the Bridge of Sighs and Prisons, from the Bacino


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 123 × 173 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXIII 6 a

Catalogue entry

With the page turned horizontally, the view is north from the Bacino, up the Rio di Palazzo at the centre past the Ponte della Paglia to the elevated Bridge of Sighs between the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) on the left and the New Prisons on the right. The view is similar to that in the oil painting Venice, the Bridge of Sighs, exhibited at the Royal Academy a few months before the 1840 tour (Tate N00527),1 which Turner had exhibited earlier in 1840. Compare also two slight sketches on a separate sheet from the same visit (Tate D32196–D32197; Turner Bequest CCCXVII 14a, b), and two more in the contemporary Venice; Passau to Würzburg sketchbook (D31306D31307; Turner Bequest CCCX 15a, 16).
The view north-west towards the Piazzetta on the recto of this leaf (D31801) is effectively a continuation to the left of this sketch. Mentioning the present page (see also folio 49 recto and verso; D31886–D31887), Finberg was not overly impressed by the quality of the pencil work in this sketchbook (see the Introduction for his general comments) compared with the ‘firm and accurate touch’ employed on Turner’s first visit to Venice in 1819, using this page and folios 49 recto and verso (D31886–D31887) as examples: ‘we now find little more than careless outlines with the details ignored or treated impatiently. The sketch of the Doge’s Palace and the Prisons (cccxiii, 6a) is a good example of this work.’2

Matthew Imms
September 2018

Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.235 no.383, pl.386 (colour).
Finberg 1930, p.122.

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