Joseph Mallord William Turner

The South-West Bend of the Grand Canal, Venice, with the Ca’ Rezzonico, Palazzi Balbi, Morolin, Grassi and Malipiero, and Church of San Samuele


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 70 a

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbooks foliation , the drawing continues half-way across folio 71 recto opposite (D14451), where the view is northwards up the west side of the Grand Canal. Finberg subsequently annotated his detailed 1909 Inventory entry (‘Looking up the Grand Canal from near the Accademia di Belle Arti; showing the Palazzo Balbi and the Tower of the Frari on the left, with the Palazzo Garzoni (the French Consulate), Palazzo Grassi, &c., and the Campanile of S. Stefano on the right’), crossing out ‘Stefano’ and inserting ‘Samueli’, and bracketing ‘70a’ and ‘71’ as ‘From steps of the Calle dei Cerchieri’.1 The Turner scholar C.F. Bell marked another copy, crossing out ‘Balbi’ and ‘S. Stefano’ and writing ‘Rezzonico’ and San Samuele’ respectively.2 Bell similarly annotated the entry in Finberg’s 1930 In Venice with Turner: ‘the church on the right is San Samuele, not S. Stefano’.3
As Finberg established, the viewpoint is the waterfront entrance to the Calle dei Cerchieri. On the present page Turner looks north to the Palazzo Balbi, with its twin obelisk finials (see also folio 38 recto; D14385), with the regular facades of the Palazzo Morolin and Palazzo Grassi coming south on the opposite side before the Campo San Samuele, with its church and campanile set back a little and partly obscured by the Palazzo Malipiero in the foreground on the right.4
In listing the buildings Turner recorded, Finberg observed: ‘It is no easy matter to find this little alley by the land, but Turner probably got to it from a gondola, and he chose to sit on the stone step because it was steadier and higher than the boat’. He noted that ‘Turner has a disconcerting way sometimes of writing the wrong names under or over buildings, and under the tower he has written “S. Stephano”; no doubt somebody misled him’. He listed various minor changes that had occurred between 1819 and 1930, evident only through close scrutiny: ‘In this way the amazing accuracy of Turner’s pencil-work is brought home to us’.5

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, p.514, and on page opposite.
Undated MS note by C.F. Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, I, p.514.
Undated MS note by Bell (before 1936) in copy of Finberg 1930, Prints and Drawings Study Room, British Museum, London, p.165, as transcribed by Ian Warrell (undated notes, Tate catalogue files).
See also Stainton 1985, p.13, and Upstone 1993, p.90.
Finberg 1930, p.42.
Stainton 1985, p.14.
Upstone 1993, p.90.

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