Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Piazzetta, Venice, with the Libreria Sansoviniana and Column of St Theodore, from within the Arcade of the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace)


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 89 × 149 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXX 81 a

Catalogue entry

Along with folio 77 verso (D32414), folios 79 verso–82 verso (D32418–D32424) show various aspects of the Piazzetta, all made with the pages turned horizontally. Finberg later annotated his basic 1909 Inventory entry (‘Colonnade’) for this page: ‘of Doge’s Palace’.1 By now the subject was very familiar to Turner, and here and on folio 82 recto opposite (D32423) he introduces a variation by placing his viewpoint within the open ground-floor arcade of the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace). For the present drawing he looked south-west across the square to the Molo end of the Libreria Sansoviniana opposite, flanked by the column of St Theodore.
There is at least one figure within the arcade, apparently labelled ‘Guard’. A nearby Austrian sentry box is shown out in the Piazzetta on folio 77 verso (D32414); see also a contemporary watercolour study (Tate D32220; Turner Bequest CCCXVIII 1).
Compare the treatment of the steeply receding arcade in the large 1820 oil painting Rome, from the Vatican (Tate N00503).2 A view from the Rialto Bridge on folio 78 recto (D32415) is another exercise in wide-angle perspective.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

Undated MS note by Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1032; see also Finberg 1930, p.170.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.137–8 no.228, pl.231 (colour).

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