Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Piazzetta, Venice, with the Libreria Sansoviniana, Campanile of San Marco (St Mark’s), Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower) and Basilica; the West Front of the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace)

1840

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 123 × 173 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D31814
Turner Bequest CCCXIII 12 a

Catalogue entry

With the page turned horizontally, the main view is north up the Piazzetta to the Piazza (St Mark’s Square), with the arcades of the Libreria Sansoviniana roughly indicated on the left, and the south side of the Loggetta seen in elevation below the campanile of St Mark’s. Beyond the square is the Torre dell’Orologio (clock tower). Although at first glance the view appears seamless, Turner may have moved further north before introducing the Basilica, as its west front is shown receding towards the centre beyond the arches on its south front. At the far right the north-west corner of the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) is introduced. Andrew Wilton has suggested a connection with a contemporary night scene in watercolour on grey-brown paper (Tate D32220; Turner Bequest CCCXVIII 1),1 which shows much the same view.
Above to the right is a lightly drawn and not very accurate elevation of the northern end of the Doge’s Palace. Turner’s inscription (meaning ‘golden tree’) perhaps indicates a local shop or restaurant.
Compare the intricate detail of the similar subject in the 1819 Milan to Venice sketchbook (Tate D14399; Turner Bequest CLXXV 45). There is a view in the opposite direction on folio 13 recto opposite (D31815).

Matthew Imms
September 2018

1
See Wilton 1975, p.134.

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