Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Scala dei Giganti (Giants’ Stairway) in the Courtyard of the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace), Venice; the North End of the Courtyard

1840

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 89 × 149 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D32438
Turner Bequest CCCXX 89 a

Catalogue entry

Finberg later annotated his unspecific 1909 Inventory entry (‘Steps and entrance to palace’): ‘Giants’ Stairway, in Cortile del Pal. Ducale’.1 The Turner scholar C.F. Bell similarly marked another copy: ‘Giants’ Staircase’.2 With the page turned horizontally, the main view is east from the foot of the Scala dei Giganti (Giant’s Staircase) in the courtyard of the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace), with the large flanking statues of Mars and Neptune at the top. To the right is a thumbnail sketch, made at right-angles, which seems to show the adjacent part of the Basilica of San Marco (St Mark’s) which overlooks the north end of the courtyard to the left of the stairs.
There are other views of the courtyard and stairs in the 1840 Venice and Botzen sketchbook (Tate D31794, D31825, D31829; Turner Bequest CCCXIII 2a, 18, 20); see also Tate D32009 (Turner Bequest CCCXIV 43) in the 1833 Venice book. The Porta della Carta and the arcade leading through to the stairs are seen on folios 87 verso, 88 recto and 90 verso (D32434–D32435, D32440); the staircase is also seen through the Porta in two 1840 gouache and watercolour studies (Tate D32181, D32247; Turner Bequest CCCXVII 2, CCCXVIII 28).

Matthew Imms
September 2018

1
Undated MS note by Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, opposite p.1033; see also Finberg 1930, p.171.
2
Undated MS note by Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1033.

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