Frist Center for the Visual Arts (Nashville, USA): The Sea and the Alps: Turner's Quest for the Sublime
The Turner scholar C.F. Bell annotated Finberg’s 1909 Inventory entry (‘The Salute, from S. Giorgio Maggiore’), crossing out the latter church in favour of ‘the Canale della Grazia’.1 John Ruskin had called it ‘Riva dei Schiavoni, from the Traghetto per Chioggia’2 or ‘The Riva, from the Canal of Chioggia’.3 The view is indeed from the Canale della Grazia, south of the eastern tip of the Isola della Giudecca, framed by the dome of the Zitelle silhouetted at the far left and the Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore with its monastery and church complex on the right. The prospect is slightly west of north across the Bacino to the campanile of San Marco (St Mark’s) at the centre, with the domes of Santa Maria della Salute in sunlight across the Canale della Giudecca; the effect suggests early morning, ‘suffused by the bluish tints of dawn’, as Nicola Moorby has put it.4
Assuming the masses of the somewhat schematic left-hand foreground are accurately represented, the view to the churches there is now obscured by boatsheds and other waterfront buildings. Compare various views in the contemporary Venice and Botzen sketchbook (Tate D31846, D31868–D31869; Turner Bequest CCCXIII 29, 40, 40a). Ian Warrell has noted that Turner ‘exaggerated the width of the canal’ to allow for the iconic skyline,5 and Robert Upstone suggested that Turner ‘compacted the composition for pictorial effect, indicating that he might have considered using it for a finished design.’6 Finberg recognised the similarity of the viewpoint in the watercolour Storm at Sunset (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge),7 from the so-called ‘Storm’ sketchbook (see the Introduction to the 1840 Grand Canal and Giudecca sketchbook; Tate; Turner Bequest CCCXV).8 The effects of light and weather there are rather more dramatic, ‘with a felucca chased by the wind’;9 a similar vessel, likely a bragozzo fishing boat typical of the region, is shown in silhouette, moored on the left here.10
In 1857, Ruskin appreciatively described the subject and handling:
Undated MS note by Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1019.
Cook and Wedderburn 1904, p.211 (1857).
Ibid., p.373 (1881).
Moorby 2014, p.107.
Warrell 2003, p.233.
Upstone 1993, p.35.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.463 no.1353, reproduced.
See Finberg 1930, p.174; see also Stainton 1985, p.58.
Warrell 1995, p.98.
See Warrell 2003, p.233.
Cook and Wedderburn 1904, p.211.
Warrell 1995, p.98.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.250–2 no.402, pl.408 (colour).
Wilcox 1990, p.36.
See Warrell 2003, p.233 and associated notes.
Stainton 1982, p.67; see also Wilton 1982, p.60, Stainton 1985, p.58, and Moorby 2014, p.107.
Wilcox 1990, pp.35–6.
Costello 2012, pp.161–2.
See Hercules Brabazon Brabazon (1821–1906), exhibition catalogue, Chris Beetles, London 1989, reproduced in colour p., p. no.15, as ‘A Souvenir of Turner’.
Warrell 2003, p.273.
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.
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