Joseph Mallord William Turner

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


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 123 × 173 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXIII 57 a

Catalogue entry

The view is south-east down the Rio di San Luca from near its entrance on the Grand Canal. Compare the prospect in this direction from the north side of the latter in a contemporary watercolour study in the Grand Canal and Giudecca sketchbook (Tate D32123; Turner Bequest CCCXV 7), centred on the entrance to this narrow side canal, with the Palazzo Grimani on the left and the Palazzo Corner Contarini dei Cavalli on the right. Both are shown also on the right of a Grand Canal view towards the Rialto on the recto of this page (D31902).
Beyond the loosely articulated west side of the Grimani on the left is the pedimented entrance front of the church of San Luca, above the Ponte del Teatro (since replaced by an iron bridge). Albeit without recognising the setting, Andrew Wilton noted the connection with a watercolour study on grey paper (Tate D32214; Turner Bequest CCCXVII 29) which he dated to 1840, using the correlation as evidence that ‘the series of grey-paper studies of Venetian and other continental subjects were all done on this journey or soon after.’1 Lindsay Stainton concurred, noting that D32214 is ‘comparatively highly finished, suggesting that Turner did not paint it on the spot, but developed it from the pencil sketch either in the evening at his hotel or shortly after his return to England’.2 However, the architectural elements in the watercolour are far more detailed and accurate than in the present drawing, likely indicating that its pencil work at least was done independently at the scene.
The precise subject was established by Ian Warrell,3 in connection with colour studies looking back past the church in this direction (Tate D32215–D32216; Turner Bequest CCCXVII 30, 31).

Matthew Imms
September 2018

Wilton 1975, p.135; see also Wilcox 1990, p.35.
See Stainton 1985, p.52
See Warrell 2003, pp.158, 264 note 16.

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