Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Piazzetta, Venice, from the Bacino, with the Campanile and Basilica of San Marco (St Mark’s), the Torre dell’Orologio and the Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace)


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Chalk and graphite on paper
Support: 150 × 229 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXLII 40

Catalogue entry

Finberg later annotated his noncommittal 1909 Inventory entry (‘Landscape, with church in mid-distance’, in a large grouping of ‘Miscellaneous: black and white’ drawings on ‘Brown Paper’): ‘Venice. Campe. & Piazzetta with S. Giorgio’’.1 Although San Giorgio Maggiore is not included, the view, in a complementary mixture of pencil details and white chalk outlines, is north to the entrance of the Piazzetta from the Bacino. The Libreria Sansoviniana is on the left in front of the campanile of San Marco (St Mark’s), with the outline of the Torre dell’Orologio on the north side of the Piazza beside the domes of the Basilica and, returning towards the Molo quayside, the monumental outline of the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) on the right, with slight indications its arcades and elaborate central balcony.
The arrangement of these well-known and frequently depicted elements can be loosely linked to two colour studies in the present subsection, centred on the Piazzetta, the first also showing the waterfront (Tate D32180, D32220; Turner Bequest CCCXVII 1, CCCXVIII 1). Turner could likely have developed the rough outlines here to a similar degree. There are related views on both sides of a similar sheet with the consecutive Turner Bequest number (Tate D34232–D34233; CCCXLII 41, 41v); see also D40321, a closely-related sketch on the verso of D32249 (CCCXIX 1), a colour study of Santa Maria della Salute in the parallel grouping of subjects near the Hotel Europa (Palazzo Giustinian) on the nearby Grand Canal.
Other than in passing on technical grounds (see below), this sheet has not featured in the published literature on Turner’s Venetian work. It is included here and dated to 1840 by its technical and stylistic affinities with many other sheets now linked to that year’s tour. Compare for example four pencil studies with white highlights on a folded sheet of buff-grey paper, showing the Piazza (Tate D32192–D32195; Turner Bequest CCCCVIII 13a–d). Like the present work, they have the air of swift, direct observation.
Undated MS note by Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, opposite p.1100.
See Ian Warrell in Warrell, David Laven, Jan Morris and others, Turner and Venice, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2003, p.259.
See Powell 1995, p.161.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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