Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Zitelle and San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, from the Canale della Giudecca, Venice


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 245 × 310 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXVI 40

Catalogue entry

The Turner scholar C.F. Bell annotated Finberg’s 1909 Inventory entry (‘Entrance to Venice from Chioggia’, the work’s picturesque title as established in the nineteenth century): ‘An absurd title | The canal of the Giudecca with San Giorgio and the Zitelle on the right’.1 In his revised 1930 listing, Finberg gave the subject as ‘S. Giorgio from the Giudecca’.2
The prospect is along or off the Fondamenta della Croce on the Isola della Giudecca, about half way between the churches of the Redentore and the Zitelle, the former being behind the viewpoint, looking east-north-east along the waterfront to the latter on the right. Beyond the Giudecca at the centre are the church and monastery complex of the Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore, with a simplified view of the Riva degli Schiavoni waterfront across the Bacino to the north-east, with the dome of San Zaccaria and the slender distant spire of San Francesco della Vigna.
The viewpoint of several contemporary colour studies looking in other directions is similar; compare Tate D32139, D32145 and D32146 (Turner Bequest CCCXVI 2, 8, 9). The last looks back to the Redentore, and is in a similar combination of fairly detailed pencil work and warm washes. There are additional touches of black here for the boats moored across the glassy waters, activating the space. Lindsay Stainton has suggested that D32146 and the present work were ‘perhaps even sketched on the same day’ and ‘may also have been coloured on the spot’;3 as Sarah Taft has observed, they ‘hint at the tones of the buildings at a particular moment.’4
D32141 (CCCXVI 4) shows a similar view to the present one, from far enough further off to include the Redentore in the foreground. Ian Warrell has noted them in relation to the oil painting Giudecca, la Donna della Salute and San Georgio, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1841 (private collection),5 within a year after this visit; yet ‘he patently did not return to this reference material’, as the Zitelle is shown in the painting with a spurious stretch of roof introduced between the twin bell turrets on the north front and the dome, whereas the immediate juxtaposition shown here is correct.6 The same applies in another exhibit that year, Depositing of John Bellini’s Three Pictures in la Chiesa Redentore, Venice (private collection; engraved in 1858: Tate impression T05192),7 where the Redentore is shown even less accurately (see under D32141).
Undated MS note by Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1021.
Finberg 1930, p.174.
Stainton 1985, p.63.
Taft 2004, p.222.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.241 no.391, pl.395 (colour).
Warrell 2003, p.183.
Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.242–3 no.393, pl.393.
Albeit Peter Bower, Turner’s Later Papers: A Study of the Manufacture, Selection and Use of his Drawing Papers 1820–1851, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999, p.81, notes that the Muggeridge family had taken over after 1820, still using the ‘C Ansell’ watermark.
‘Appendix: The papers used for Turner’s Venetian Watercolours’ (1840, section 2) in Warrell 2003, p.259.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.463 no.1356, reproduced.
Ibid., p.464 no.1365.
Warrell 2003, p.259.

Matthew Imms
July 2018

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