Joseph Mallord William Turner

Venice - Noon

exhibited 1845

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 610 × 918 mm
frame: 877 × 1187 × 105 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Display caption

This painting is part of a pair to Venice – Sunset, a Fisher. Turner first exhibited it with the caption ‘Fallacies of Hope’. This is the title of a poem he wrote to accompany his pictures, although he didn’t include any verse in this case. Although the church of San Giorgio and the Doge’s palace are visible to left and right, the composition here is largely imaginary. The ruddy sunset colouring has darkened since it was first painted, but a reviewer at the time called it ‘a beautiful dream, full of Italy, and poetry, and summer’.

Gallery label, December 2020

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Catalogue entry

418. [N00541] Venice—Noon Exh. 1845


Canvas, 24 × 36 1/8 (61 × 91·5)

Coll. Turner Bequest 1856 (one of 18–21, 36–40; see No. 383 [N00527]); transferred to the Tate Gallery 1929.

Exh. R.A. 1845 (396); Cardiff 1951.

Lit. Thornbury 1862, i, 348–9; 1877, p. 467; Bell 1901, p. 153 no. 253; Armstrong 1902, p. 235; MacColl 1920, p. 24; Finberg 1930, pp. 151, 158; Davies 1946, p. 186; Finberg 1961, pp. 407, 509 no. 567; Rothenstein and Butlin 1964, p. 66.

Exhibited in 1845 with the caption ‘MS. Fallacies of Hope’. Thornbury adds the subtitle, ‘from the Canal of St. Mark’, also found in early National Gallery catalogues. MacColl identifies the view as seen ‘from a point off the Public Gardens; in the distance to left the Church of San Giorgio, to right the Doge's palace’. For the possible interest of a ‘Mr. P.’ in this picture and No. 419 [N00542] see the entry for Nos. 421–2.

The Spectator for 10 May 1845 spoke of the two Venetian scenes in the Middle Room, this picture and No. 419 [N00542], as ‘another pair of gorgeous visions of Venice, blazing with sunlight that floods sea and sky’, which makes one regret the presents state of this picture. The Athenaeum for 17 May, after claiming that most of Turner's exhibits in 1845 did not make sense even at a distance, went on, ‘But the Venice, Noon (396), beheld from one particular point, is a beautiful dream, full of Italy, and poetry, and summer’.

The paint and, probably, the ground were transferred from the original canvas in 1926.

Published in:
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984

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