Joseph Mallord William Turner

?The Ponte della Veneta Marina, Venice, with the Campanile of San Marco (St Mark’s) in the Distance


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 218 × 282 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXVIII 16

Catalogue entry

The Turner scholar C.F. Bell annotated Finberg’s 1909 Inventory entry (‘A view’): ‘nondescript’.1 Finberg had tentatively transcribed Turner’s scrawled inscription in white chalk or gouache as ‘Marino’,2 later suggesting ‘Murano’,3 the island in the Lagoon to the north of Venice which Turner is not known to have visited.
The freely painted treatment is somewhat disjointed and provisional, but appears to indicate buildings and figures, with the white form of a low bridge at the bottom left. If Turner’s note is read as ‘Marina’, this could indicate the Ponte della Veneta Marina, at the Canale di San Marco entrance to the Rio della Tana south of the Arsenale, linking the Riva San Biagio and the Riva dei Setti Martiri, eastwards from the Riva degli Schiavoni. Compare Tate D32167 (Turner Bequest CCCXVI 30), one of a several contemporary colour studies on white paper showing prospects west along the waterfront towards the centre of the city and the campanile of San Marco (St Mark’s), which may show the bridge or another nearby.
It seems to be mentioned in a memorandum in the contemporary Rotterdam to Venice sketchbook (Tate D32431; Turner Bequest CCCXX 86), and there is a pencil drawing showing its elevation from the Canale di San Marco in the Venice and Botzen book (D31835; CCCXIII 23). See also D31809 (CCCXIII 10) in the latter book, a rapid sketch with the silhouetted masts of shipping moored on the canal complementing the distant campanile, and a separate study of the bridge inscribed ‘Ponte della Venetta [sic] Marina’; this page could be linked to the present study, with what seem to be masts in blue on the left, and the more substantial form of what may be the campanile in the same colour at the centre.
Compare D32225 (CCCXVIII 6) in the present grouping, a moonlit view towards the campanile along the Riva on similar paper, and the loose treatment of figures and architectural forms in other brown and grey paper Venice studies such as D32233, D32237 and D32251 (CCCXVIII 14, 18, CCCXIX 3).
Undated MS note by Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1027.
Finberg 1909, II, p.1027.
Finberg 1930, p.176.
‘Appendix: The papers used for Turner’s Venetian Watercolours’ (1840, section 12) in Warrell 2003, p.259; see also Bower 1999, p.112 and note 1.

Matthew Imms
July 2018

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