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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner The Canale della Giudecca, Venice, off the Redentore, with the Zitelle and San Giorgio Maggiore Beyond 1840

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
The Canale della Giudecca, Venice, off the Redentore, with the Zitelle and San Giorgio Maggiore Beyond 1840
Turner Bequest CCCXVI 4
Pencil and watercolour on white wove paper, 244 x 307 mm
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘S Giaco’ centre right
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram towards bottom left
Inscribed by John Ruskin in blue ink ‘1569’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCCXVI 4’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner’s viewpoint is the Canale della Giudecca, immediately off the church of the Redentore in the right foreground. Its waterfront façade faces slightly east of north, but it is presented here as if it were facing north-west, almost like an architect’s schematic elevation for the sake of noting details, whereas the Fondamenta della Croce beyond runs east-north-east to the Zitelle, and points the way at the end of the Isola della Giudecca to the Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore and its church and campanile, towards the left.
At any event, Palladio’s Redentore is shown rather inaccurately. For example, the decorative moulding suggesting the roofline (corresponding with the profile of a series of buttresses above the side aisle) should project from immediately below the horizontal upper entablature of the nave, and the corresponding motif in relief below, marking the actual profile of the aisle roof, descends from immediately beside the capitals supporting the pediment. Towards the top right is a continuation,1 giving a rough impression of the western part of the façade, the parallel free-standing buttresses receding in steep perspective along the side, and the whole dome, surmounted by its cupola and statue.
The layout of the buildings in the afternoon sunlight to the left of the Redentore appears much the same today, but their recession towards the Zitelle is rather condensed. Lower waterfront building still partly obscure the Redentore’s façade at the point labelled ‘S Giaco’, and were presumably then associated with the church of San Giacomo, demolished in 1837 (three years before this study), which had stood just behind them along the waterfront to the right, beyond the right-hand edge of this view, still called the Fondamenta San Giacomo.2 In 1819 Turner had occasionally noted its campanile in distant views; see for example Tate D14439 (Turner Bequest CLXXV 65) in the Milan to Venice sketchbook.
Finberg later annotated his 1909 Inventory entry: ‘Sketch for oil pntg, “Bellini’s Pictures Redentore” R.A. 1841’’.3 This refers to the Depositing of John Bellini’s Three Pictures in la Chiesa Redentore, Venice, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1841 (private collection; engraved in 1858: Tate impression T05192),4 and this sheet could well have informed the background of the busy waterborne scene, where the Redentore is shown from this direction, albeit even less accurately. Ian Warrell has also noted a similarity with the backdrop to the right-hand half of another 1841 exhibit, the Giudecca, la Donna della Salute and San Georgio (private collection).5
See also Warrell 2003, p.182.
See Jeff Cotton, ‘San Giacomo della Giudecca’, The Churches of Venice, accessed 24 April 2018, http://www.churchesofvenice.co.uk/demolished.htm#giud; see also Warrell 2003, p.182.
Undated MS note by Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, opposite p.1018.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.242–3 no.393, pl.393.
Ibid., p.241 no.391, pl.395 (colour); see Warrell 2003, p.182.
Technical notes:
Clouds are suggested by lifting colour out of the blue wash. As well as pencil work, some of the architectural forms are defined in pale red, deftly drawn with the point of a fine brush. Finberg gave a lyrical description of Turner’s technique here and in similar Venice studies, albeit noting ‘languid and careless’ pencil work:
But attention is diverted from the line-work by the skilful washes and touches of colour with which they are enlivened. Portions of the white paper are generally left uncovered, and small touches of very pale grey, blue, yellow and red are scattered here and there. The effect in the slighter drawings, like cccxvi, 2 [D32139],1 4, and 33 [D32170], is quite charming, because all the touches and washes of colour are so pretty in themselves, and they unite so well with each other and with the white paper. Turner is such a consummate master of picture-making that he can work wonders even with a few formless but artfully places touches or blobs.2
This is one of numerous 1840 Venice works Ian Warrell has noted as on sheets of ‘white paper produced [under the name] Charles Ansell,3 each measuring around 24 x 30 cm, several watermarked with the date “1828”’:4 Tate D32138–D32139, D32141–D32143, D32145–D32147, D32154–D32163, D32167–D32168, D32170–D32177, D35980, D36190 (Turner Bequest CCCXVI 1, 2, 4–6, 8–10, 17–26, 30, 31, 33–40, CCCLXIV 137, 332). Warrell has also observed that The Doge’s Palace and Piazzetta, Venice (National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin)5 and Venice: The New Moon (currently untraced)6 ‘may belong to this group’.7
See also Wilton 1975, p.138.
Finberg 1930, pp.122, 125.
Albeit Peter Bower, Turner’s Later Papers: A Study of the Manufacture, Selection and Use of his Drawing Papers 1820–1851, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999, p.81, notes that the Muggeridge family had taken over after 1820, still using the ‘C Ansell’ watermark.
‘Appendix: The papers used for Turner’s Venetian Watercolours’ (1840, section 2) in Warrell 2003, p.259.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.463 no.1356, reproduced.
Ibid., p.464 no.1365.
Warrell 2003, p.259.
Blank; inscribed in pencil ‘26’ bottom left, upside down; stamped in black ‘CCCXVI – 4’ over Turner Bequest monogram below centre.
There is a patch of abrasion to the surface towards the centre right.

Matthew Imms
July 2018

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘The Canale della Giudecca, Venice, off the Redentore, with the Zitelle and San Giorgio Maggiore Beyond 1840 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, July 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-the-canale-della-giudecca-venice-off-the-redentore-with-the-r1196982, accessed 16 January 2021.