Joseph Mallord William Turner

Venice from the Canale di San Marco, with the Campanile and Domes of San Marco (St Mark’s) in the Distance


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour and pen on paper
Support: 245 × 306 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXVI 18

Catalogue entry

Finberg later annotated his 1909 Inventory entry (‘Riva degli Schiavone, from channel to the Lido’), correcting ‘Schiavone’, crossing out the last four words in favour of ‘the Giudecca’, and adding: ‘Doga just showing on left’.1 The Turner scholar C.F. Bell marked his own copy: ‘San Giorgio should be shown, but is just left out’.2 Although the topography is less clearly defined than in other views over the Bacino, the general prospect appears to be north-westwards from the Canale di San Marco to the campanile and domes of San Marco (St Mark’s). The loosely defined forms where boats are moored on the left may indicate the north side of the Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore.
Lindsay Stainton has suggested a link with the oil painting of fishing boats, The Sun of Venice going to Sea, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1843 (Tate N00535),3 where the lightly indicated backdrop of the distant city is also ‘topographically inexact’.4 While Ian Warrell used it as an example likely derived from Canaletto’s panoramic Bacino compositions,5 Gerald Finley has called the present work ‘a beguiling compromise between fact and fantasy’.6 As Warrell has noted, the facts are presented in the way Turner ‘positions a group of fishermen on a sandbank, pulling in their nets, a reminder that even the principal channel of the Canale di San Marco possessed dangerous shallows for those unfamiliar with its hazards.’7
In 1857, John Ruskin appreciatively described Turner’s treatment: ‘Very exquisite in colour and gradation, and the placing of the boats, and drawing the nets.’8 The colour and handling of Tate D32156 (Turner Bequest CCCXVI 19), a view from the far side of San Giorgio, are closely comparable; Stainton has observed that the ‘combination of cool tones of aquamarine merging into shades of yellow with touches of pink was one which Turner frequently used in his Venetian watercolours’.9 Warrell has noted that the banded effect with superimposed details made this work ‘especially popular with copyists during the nineteenth century, many of whom had been exhorted to attempt the academic exercise by Ruskin’. One by his pupil Isabella Lee Jay (working 1868–96) was among others of hers in the Ruskin collection at Bembridge School (now at the Ruskin Library, University of Lancaster); another, anonymous copy is at the Courtauld Gallery, London.10
Undated MS note by Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1019 and opposite.
Undated MS note by Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1019.
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).
Stainton 1985, p.34; see also Warrell 2003, p.227.
See Warrell 2003, p.47.
Finley 1999, p.34.
Warrell 2003, p.227.
Cook and Wedderburn 1904, p.210.
Stainton 1985, p.59; see also Lyles 1992, p.83, and Finley1999, p.34.
Warrell 1995, p.97; for the Courtauld copy, see Broughton, Clarke and Selbourne 2005, p.240 no.91, reproduced in colour.
See Stainton 1985, p.59; see also Lyles 1992, p.83, Warrell 1995, p.97, and 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.

Matthew Imms
July 2018

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