Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Porch of the Dogana from the Canale della Giudecca, Venice, at Evening, with the Campanile of San Marco (St Mark’s) Beyond


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 222 × 299 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXVI 14

Catalogue entry

This is a rather schematic, simplified yet atmospheric view, notionally looking north from the entrance to the Canale di Giudecca, through the open porch of the Dogana on the left. Taking this sight-line as a starting point, the scene is extremely laterally compressed, bringing in the campanile of San Marco (St Mark’s) and the Molo front of the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) towards the right, north-east across the Bacino. The dome partly defined in pencil at the left-hand edge is intended as that of Santa Maria della Salute, in reality further left of the Dogana from this angle than the far end of the Doge’s Palace is to the right. Otherwise the pencil work is restricted to the small boat off the Dogana, likely added at a late stage or as an afterthought.
Similarly generalised, atmospheric evening effects are seen in technically related nearby views (Tate D32150, D32152; Turner Bequest CCCXVI 13, 15), and on pages in the contemporary Grand Canal and Giudecca sketchbook (Tate D32130, D32133; Turner Bequest CCCXV 14, 17).1 Andrew Wilton has characterised such studies as ‘rich in colour but extremely economical of means, evoking the wide level waters of the Bacino di San Marco with a minimum of touches.’2
Ian Warrell has characterised D32150–D32152: ‘As a linked sequence, they deftly recreate the graduated nuances of the failing light, using the landmarks nearest the Bacino to chart the onset of twilight, passing from a washed-out pink to a sombre lilac and finally becoming a more solid blue.’3 He as described the subject of Venetian Festival, a hazy, unfinished oil painting of a daylight scene made around 1845 (Tate N04659)4 as ‘like’ the present view,5 although any correlation is likely fortuitous.
See also Warrell 2003, p.209.
Wilton 1982, p.60.
Warrell 2003, p.209.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.297 no.508, pl.509 (colour).
Warrell 2003, p.265 note 24; see ibid., fig.241 (colour), as ‘Venetian Festival: View over the Bacino’, c.1843–5.
Technical notes:
Finberg had distinguished Tate D32148–D32152 (Turner Bequest CCCXVII 11–15), all 1840 Venetian subjects, as being on ‘slightly yellowish coarse paper’.1 While technical examination has since shown that the first two are on a different buff paper, the present work is one of four contemporary sheets noted by Ian Warrell as ‘Pale grey-white wove [paper], watermarked: “C S”, followed by laurel leaves, and mould numbers’,2 namely Tate D32150–D32153 (Turner Bequest CCCXVI 13–16). He characterised it as an ‘Italian paper, probably made in the Brescia region’.3
Finberg 1909, II, p.1019; see also Finberg 1930, p.174, Wilton 1974, p.154, Wilton 1975, pp.138, 143, Wilton 1976, p.148, Wilton 1982, p.60, and Wilton 1983, p.[286].
‘Appendix: The papers used for Turner’s Venetian Watercolours’ (1840, section 7) in Warrell 2003, p.259.
Ibid.; see also Bower 1999, pp.111, 113.

Matthew Imms
July 2018

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