Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Western End of the Canale della Giudecca, Venice, with the Church of Santa Marta; ?the Isola di San Giorgio in Alga

1840

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 126 × 198 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D31289
Turner Bequest CCCX 7

Catalogue entry

Made with the page turned horizontally, the main view shows the western end of the Canale della Giudecca, within a short sequence of views in the vicinity (folios 6 verso–9 recto; D31288–D31293).1 In the immediate foreground is the south side of the church of Santa Marta, which had been suppressed in 1805 and later used as a warehouse;2 with its central door and thermal window it remains recognisable albeit heavily restored set further back from the water in a car park. Later dockside developments to its east preclude a clear view, but the tower beyond is likely the campanile of San Nicolò dei Mendicoli, as shown in the foreground of a more detailed view in the same direction on folio 6 verso opposite (D31288), where the Zitelle is shown in the distance at the far end of the canal, which may correspond to the domed building at the centre here. The lost campanile of Santa Marta appears to be shown on the verso (D31290).
Above and below are isolated views of what seem to be buildings on islands in the lagoon. Finberg tentatively transcribed the inscription above the upper one as ‘San Cosseta’,3 but it is very uncertain and does not readily suggest any Venetian dedication. Although it lacks the tower shown in the lower drawing, both may show the Isola San Giorgio in Alga, south-west from the viewpoint of the main subject; its church has long been abandoned and overgrown and the campanile lost, but engravings show the pyramidal roof of an adjacent waterfront building which may be what Turner shows here.4 The island appears in the distance of the 1780s painting View of the Giudecca and the Church of Santa Marta, Venice, by Giacomo and Francesco Guardi (National Trust, Waddesdon Manor). Compare a similar distant view on a page of sketches made in the vicinity in the contemporary Venice and Botzen sketchbook (Tate D31852; Turner Bequest CCCXIII 32).
As noted in the sketchbook’s Introduction, the Venice views on its early pages are intermingled with German sketches from Turner’s return journey.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

1
See Warrell 2003, pp.179, 264 note 4.
2
See Jeff Cotton, ‘Santa Marta’, The Churches of Venice, accessed 25 January 2018, http://www.churchesofvenice.co.uk/dorsoduro2.htm#santamarta.
3
Finberg 1909, II, p.997.
4
See images at Alessandro Bullo, ‘San Giorgio in Alga’, Arte, Misteri e Segreti a Venezia, accessed 25 January 2018, https://www.venicecafe.it/san-giorgio-alga/.

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