504. [N05482] Venetian Scene c. 1840–5?
THE TATE GALLERY, LONDON (5482)
Canvas, 31 1/4 × 31 (79·5 × 79)
Coll. Turner Bequest 1856 (158, one of 2 each 2'7 1/4" × 2'7" with No. 532 [N05475]; identified 1946, ?by chalk number on back); transferred to the Tate Gallery 1947.
Exh. Paris 1983–4 (69, repr.).
Lit. Davies 1946, pp. 158, 188; Wallace 1979, p. 109, pl. 2; Butlin 1981, p. 45.
An unfinished Venetian scene with the square format and vortex-like composition of a number of Turner's works of the 1840s (e.g. Nos. 404–5 [N00531-N00532]), similar in its impression of a procession of boats to No. 505 [N02068]. For what was possibly a projected companion see No. 532 [N05475]. Gage (exh. cat., Paris 1983–4) queries the possibility that the two pictures could be companions on the grounds that they are very similar in colour, but in view of the fact that, unlike the exhibited works in this sort of format, Turner seems to have added a lot of colour, as well as detail, at the last minute, as for instance in the case of the vital blues in Undine giving the Ring to Massaniello (No. 424, q.v.[N00549]), this is not a conclusive argument. He also queries the identification with Venice, while agreeing that the composition is similar in character to some of the festive Venetian scenes such as Nos. 505–8 [N02068, N04659-N04661].
There are paint losses, now restored, all down the right-hand edge, though mainly only in a narrow strip. The form of the Thomas Brown stamp on the back of the canvas supports a date in the 1840s (see Butlin, loc. cit.).
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984