Joseph Mallord William Turner

Two Venetian Merchants


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 44 a

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, two men are shown, one from the front and one from the back, in the dress of ‘Venetian Merchant[s]’, as Turner notes. They were presumably observed in the vicinity of the Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square), shown on the recto (D14397), or the adjoining Piazzetta, the subject of folio 45 recto opposite (D14399).
With this thumbnail study in mind, Andrew Wilton has suggested that ‘Turner spent less time on this tour drawing the local people and their activities than was his usual practice – in France and Holland, for example’;1 presumably in Venice at least he was primarily intent on capturing the complexities of the dense and varied architecture recorded in the present sketchbook in the short time he allowed himself.
For other figure studies in this sketchbook, see under folio 18 verso (D14351).
Wilton 1979, p.141.
Technical notes:
Stray strokes at the top right suggest that the sketchbook was open at this page when Turner was working in watercolour on some other occasion.
A horizontal tear at the gutter, presumably connected to the extraction of this leaf for the display of the recto (D14397) in the nineteenth century, has been repaired; the glue has subsequently darkened.

Matthew Imms
March 2017

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