Joseph Mallord William Turner

Views from the Bacino, Venice, towards Sunset, Including the Island and Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, Santa Maria della Salute, the Entrance to the Grand Canal and the Campanile of San Marco (St Mark’s)


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 123 × 173 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXIII 22 a

Catalogue entry

Finberg later annotated his basic 1909 Inventory entry (‘Views of Venice’): ‘2 sk[etches]. (1 S. Giorgio I think. (2) Salute, & Doge’s Pal. from Giudecca’.1 The Turner scholar C.F. Bell marked another copy: ‘Panoramas from a gondola in the Canal di S. Marco ... Campanile with scaffolding’.2 With the page turned horizontally, there are two distinct views.
At the top, the viewpoint is the Canale di San Marco near the northern shore of the Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore, with the easternmost of its harbour’s two lighthouses on the left, the other to the right of the campanile and dome of the island’s church, and a loose outline of Santa Maria della Salute on the right, across the Bacino to the west.
Below, the Salute is better defined on the left, with the setting sun above a silhouetted boat. Near the centre is the campanile of San Marco (St Mark’s), with the scaffolding noted by Bell (an important indication of such sketches’ 1840 date; see the tour Introduction), above the domes of the Basilica. To the right, the forms are less clear, but may be San Giorgio’s western lighthouse and part of the church in the middle distance, making the viewpoint the Bacino, looking north-west and north from a new viewpoint some way south-west of the first.
This is one of a several studies in this book (see also folios 16 verso, 22 recto, 25 verso, 29 recto, 32 recto and 41 verso; D31822, D31833, D31839, D31846, D31852, D31871) noted by Ian Warrell as showing the sun setting from the vicinity of San Giorgio Maggiore in connection with an anecdote by the watercolourist William Callow (1812–1908), who recalled relaxing in a gondola and seeing Turner still busy working at that late hour, sketching the church from another boat.3

Matthew Imms
September 2018

Undated MS note by Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, opposite p.1010.
Undated MS note by Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1010.
See Warrell 2003, pp.197, 264 notes 5 and 6.

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