Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Rio di San Luca, Venice, with the Back of the Palazzo Grimani and the Church of San Luca


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 112 × 185 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXV 89 a

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, the view is north-west along the Rio di San Luca, which runs off the south side of the Grand Canal west of the Rialto Bridge. Finberg subsequently annotated his basic 1909 Inventory entry (‘Bridge and buildings’): ‘St Luke’s & back of Grimani Palace’.1 The Turner scholar C.F. Bell marked another copy: ‘Side canal with large Baroque Palace’.2
This drawing represents a rare move away from the canal itself in Turner’s exploration of inner Venice in this sketchbook, albeit not very far; at the centre is the back of the Palazzo Grimani di San Luca, now Venice’s Appeal Court, the imposing north front of which features in views of the Grand Canal, such as that on folio 73 recto (D14455). To its right is the flat, pilastered west end of the church of San Luca, with a stone bridge (as depicted in an 1840 colour study of the view: Tate D32215; Turner Bequest CCCXVII 30) leading to its door. A steel bridge with a similar profile stands there today, with a modern building on its near side to the left. The pointed arches in the foreground on the right remain recognisable.
The setting clearly appealed to the artist; compare also D40159 (a pencil drawing on the back of D32215) and another 1840 watercolour, Tate D32216 (Turner Bequest CCCXVII 31), complemented by one looking towards the bridge from the opposite direction (Tate D32214; Turner Bequest CCCXVII 29).3 For other drawings made in the vicinity and an overview of Turner’s coverage of Venice, see the sketchbook’s Introduction.

Matthew Imms
March 2017

Undated MS note by A.J. Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, I, opposite p.515.
Undated MS note by C.F. Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, I, p.515.
See Warrell 2003, pp.156, 158, and figs.163–166.

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