J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, by Moonlight, across the Grand Canal from the Traghetto del Ridotto near the Hotel Europa (Palazzo Giustinian) 1840

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, by Moonlight, across the Grand Canal from the Traghetto del Ridotto near the Hotel Europa (Palazzo Giustinian) 1840
Turner Bequest CCCXVIII 11
Chalk, gouache and watercolour on red-brown wove paper, 250 x 307 mm
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram towards bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCCXVIII – 11’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Finberg’s 1909 Inventory entry called this evocative scene simply ‘Moonlight’,1 although he later specified it as ‘The Salute, from the Calle del Ridotto’.2 The view is from around the Grand Canal entrance of the Calle del Ridotto, beside the Palazzo Giustinian (Hotel Europa), which appears to be represented schematically on the right; Turner was staying there on this occasion (see the Introduction to the present subsection). The familiar Baroque silhouette of the church of Santa Maria della Salute is seen to the south-west across the entrance to the Grand Canal against the light from a slender waxing moon, with the indistinct bulk of the Seminario Patriarcale and the Dogana below to its left. Compare the detailed pencil drawing from about this point in the 1819 Milan to Venice sketchbook (Tate D14417; Turner Bequest CLXXV 54).
During Turner’s 20 August–3 September 1840 stay in Venice this phase of the moon coincided with the second week, between the new moon on 27 August and its first quarter on the day he left.3 The moonlight is augmented by a yellowish lantern illuminating figures and gondolas around the landing stage in the foreground. Less defined areas of white towards the right suggest lights from the hotel. Also featuring a lantern or the illuminated cabin of a passing boat, a similar view (Tate D32232; Turner Bequest CCCXVIII 13) shows more of the Dogana, as far as its porch to the left, while D32238 (CCCXVIII 19) includes only the latter feature at the right, in a prospect from about the same point but looking further left again, south-eastwards towards the waters of the Bacino. The soft moonlight is suddenly interrupted in a fourth view, as a rocket bursts skywards and illuminates the dome of the church (D32248; CCCXVIII 19).4 See also D32249 and D33883 (CCCXIX 1, CCCXLI 183) in the present grouping, showing the Salute in brighter conditions.
With reference to the Venice night scene in the oil painting Juliet and her Nurse, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1836 (private collection; engraved in 1842 as ‘St Mark’s Place, Venice’: Tate impression T05188),5 Andrew Wilton tentatively dated the present sheet to each of the two visits to Venice Turner made either side of that year (1833 and 1840).6 This is symptomatic of the varied dating of many such (often nocturnal) colour studies on brown papers, although latterly the consensus is that they all date from 1840, as catalogued here; see the Introduction to the tour.
Finberg 1909, II, p.1027.
Finberg 1930, p.176.
See ‘Moon Phases for Venice, Italy’, timeanddate.com, accessed 6 September 2018, https://www.timeanddate.com/moon/phases/italy/venice?year=1840.
See also Warrell 2003, p.132.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.215–17 no.365, pl.369 (colour).
Wilton 1987a, p.118, as ‘more probably ... 1840’, Wilton 1987b, p.136, as ‘?1833’, and Wilton 1988, p.136, as ‘?1833’; see also Butlin 1989, pp.93, 94 note 7.
Technical notes:
The broad colour masses are articulated by a variety of rapid marks, including a single dash of chalk for the moon, dark strokes and spattered marks, perhaps using a broad pen dipped in colour, in the foreground, and thick, creamy gouache for the glowing lantern.
This is one of numerous 1840 Venice works Ian Warrell has noted as being on ‘Red-brown paper made at Cartieri Pietro Milani Mill, Fabriano, with a watermark showing the letter “M” accompanied by laurel leaves:1 Tate D32224, D32227, D32230, D32238–D32241, D32245–D32246, D32248, D32251, D32254 (Turner Bequest CCCXVIII 5, 8, 11, 19–22, 26, 27, 29, CCCXIX 3, 6). As Warrell has observed; the support ‘seems to be quite absorbent, so that the colours penetrate through to the back of the sheet’.2
‘Appendix: The papers used for Turner’s Venetian Watercolours’ (1840, section 9) in Warrell 2003, p.259; see also see also Bower 1999, pp.111, 112, and Warrell 2003, p.259, sections 10 and 11, for other likely Italian (possibly Fabriano) brown papers.
Ibid., section 9.
Blank, with staining where dark tones have soaked through from the recto, particularly towards the bottom, as described in the technical notes above; inscribed by Turner in ink ‘15’ bottom right, upside down; inscribed in pencil ‘44’ above centre, ascending vertically; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram over ‘CCCXVIII – 11’ bottom left; inscribed in pencil ‘CCCXVIII.11’ bottom right. For Turner’s ink numbering of many similar sheets, see the Introduction to the tour.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, by Moonlight, across the Grand Canal from the Traghetto del Ridotto near the Hotel Europa (Palazzo Giustinian) 1840 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, September 2018, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2019, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-santa-maria-della-salute-venice-by-moonlight-across-the-r1197024, accessed 23 June 2021.