Joseph Mallord William Turner

Venice (The Rialto - Moonlight), for Rogers’s ‘Poems’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 242 × 307 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 196

Catalogue entry

This vignette, Venice (The Rialto – Moonlight), was published in the 1834 edition of Rogers’s Poems to illustrate a poem entitled ‘Human Life’.1 It was engraved by William Miller,2 and designed to complement the following lines which Turner marked with pencil in the margin of his own copy of the 1827 edition of Poems (see Tate D36330; Turner Bequest CCCLXVI p.103):
Now the scene shifts to Venice – to a square
Glittering with light, all nations masking there,
With light reflected on the tremulous tide,
Where gondolas in gay confusion glide,
Answering the jest, the song on every side
(Poems, p.95)
The Rialto Bridge was a well-known Venetian landmark and one that Turner had already sketched extensively during his 1819 tour of Italy (see the Milan to Venice sketchbook, Turner Bequest CLXXV). The composition of the view meanwhile, with a gondola floating along a shimmering canal is similar to that of another vignette illustration by Turner, The Bridge of Sighs circa 1830 (private collection), engraved by Edward Finden,3 and published in Byron’s Life and Works, (volume XI, 1832).4
Samuel Rogers, Poems, London 1834, p.95.
W.G. Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., vol.II, London 1913, no.386. There is one impression in Tate’s collection (T06645).
Wilton 1979, no.1225; Rawlinson 1909, no.421.
Byron 1832, vol.XI; See Warrell, Laven, Morris and others 2003, pp.75–8.
Inscribed by ?the artist in pencil ‘High Holborn’ top left, descending left-hand edge. Also in unknown hands in pencil ‘NG’ top centre and ‘21’ upper centre and ‘29 b’ centre and ‘CCLXXX.196’ bottom. Also in red ink ‘029’ top right, inverted
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 196’ lower centre

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

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