This relatively slight but confident chiaroscuro tonal study on grey paper is pictorially compressed to include a wide-ranging view from the Canale della Giudecca, looking south-east to the church of the Redentore on the Isola della Giudecca waterfront on the right; compare a more conventional contemporary pencil and wash study on white paper (Tate D32141; Turner Bequest CCCXVI 4).
The Zitelle church is apparently to the left of the Redentore towards the centre, while a white stroke beyond possibly indicates the front of San Giorgio Maggiore across the Bacino to the north-west, with what seems to be a schematic representation of the domes and twin campanili of the Salute towards the left to the north-north-east. All are aligned as seen in the large and elaborate oil painting of the Depositing of John Bellini’s Three Pictures in la Chiesa Redentore, Venice, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1841 (private collection; engraved in 1858: Tate impression T05192),1 where the water is filled with boats and a host of historical figures; Ian Warrell has suggested that the Canaletto-like painting was ‘based’ on this ‘essentially monochrome study’.2
Andrew Wilton has speculated of the numerous works on such paper now generally associated with 1840 (see the technical notes below): ‘Although it is possible that they were done at different times during Turner’s travels, it seems more probable that they were worked up as a sequence or series from notes or from memory after Turner had returned to England ... If so, it is possible that some of the other Venetian views, which have features in common with these, particularly in respect of colour, may have been produced in England.’3
Whether this sheet was painted on the spot, in Turner’s Hotel Europa room during the visit, or back in London as a direct study for the painting remains a moot point. The first eventuality seems least likely,4 but the second is a possibility as other Venice subjects of various types are on comparable sheets (see the technical notes below), including D32184, D32200 and D32201 (CCCXVII 5, 15, 16) in the present grouping. See also the Introduction to the parallel subsection of grey paper views of potentially less certain date, some of which relate compositionally to pre-1840 paintings (D32205–D32210; Turner Bequest CCCXVII 20–25).
‘Appendix: The papers used for Turner’s Venetian Watercolours’ (1840, section 8), ibid., p.259.
See also Powell 1995, p.169 for some of these, and similar sheets used for contemporary Germany subjects.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.464 no.1367, reproduced.
Not in ibid.; Warrell 2003, fig.233 (colour).
Warrell 2003, p.259.
Wilton 1979, p.423 no.1037, reproduced.