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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Study for 'Venice (The Rialto - Moonlight)', Rogers's 'Poems' c.1830-2

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Study for ‘Venice (The Rialto – Moonlight)’, Rogers’s ‘Poems’ circa 1830–2
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 108
Pencil and watercolour, approximately 100 x 175 mm on white wove paper, 168 x 239 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘(108’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 108’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This is a preparatory study for the finished watercolour vignette, Venice (The RialtoMoonlight), which was published in the 1834 edition of Rogers’s Poems, as an illustration to a poem entitled ‘Human Life’ (see Tate D27713; Turner Bequest 196). All of the major features of the composition are present in this initial sketch including the Rialto Bridge, the surrounding architecture, the gondolas and their gondoliers.
The style and medium of this sketch are typical of Turner’s preparatory studies for Rogers’s Poems, which tend to be executed in pencil and light watercolour wash. It was formerly part of a parcel of studies described by John Ruskin as ‘A.B. 83. P.R. Studies for Italy. Coarse, but noble’.1 Finberg records how Ruskin later described his phrasing in a letter to Ralph Nicholson Wornum as ‘horrible’, adding ‘I never meant it to be permanent’.2
Finberg 1909, vol.II, p.896.
Ibid., vol.I, p.xi.
Inscribed by unknown hands in pencil ‘CCLXXX 108’ lower right and ‘AB 83 P | R’ lower right

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

How to cite

Meredith Gamer, ‘Study for ‘Venice (The Rialto – Moonlight)’, Rogers’s ‘Poems’ c.1830–2 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, August 2006, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-study-for-venice-the-rialto-moonlight-rogerss-poems-r1133356, accessed 24 January 2022.