Joseph Mallord William Turner

?The Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square), Venice, with Figures


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 155 × 238 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXIX 3

Technique and condition

This watercolour and gouache painting is executed on a sheet of medium weight, brown coloured, wove paper. This is a swiftly executed sketch. The image covers the whole of the recto but is denser in some areas than in others. Some areas are extremely fluid in style; other areas have fairly dry paint application, particularly the application of white gouache in the centre of the image. Layers have been built up in an informal fashion. This work is in quite good condition with the colours retaining much of their vibrancy. The dark brown colour of the paper has been used to great effect to create the atmosphere of this scene.
Prior to conservation on 2008 there was severe cockling across entire sheet. There is a crease along the very edge of the right-hand side of the recto where the sheet on this side was torn along. This suggests that it was the right-hand side of the sheet which was attached to the sketchbook; there is also a small ingrained crease in the top right-hand quarter of the recto, this appears to have been caused during the paper manufacturing process, when the sheet was hung up to dry.
In the top left hand corner of the verso there is a line of black paint and a small dark blue speck of paint below it: both are probably in watercolour medium.

Helen Evans
August 2009

Catalogue entry

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