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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner The Canale della Giudecca, Venice, with Santa Maria della Salute, San Giorgio Maggiore, the Zitelle and the Redentore to the East 1840

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
The Canale della Giudecca, Venice, with Santa Maria della Salute, San Giorgio Maggiore, the Zitelle and the Redentore to the East 1840
Turner Bequest CCCXV 11
Watercolour and gouache on white wove paper, 222 x 321 mm
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram bottom centre
Stamped in black ‘CCCXV – 11’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The prospect is eastwards along the broad Canale della Giudecca, from a viewpoint likely towards its south side, perhaps off the Fondamenta del Ponte Piccolo about opposite the Gesuati church (out of sight to the left). In the distance at the centre is the island church of San Giorgio Maggiore; towards the left is the prominent dome of Santa Maria della Salute, catching the warm evening light,1 with the campanile of San Marco (St Mark’s) beyond to the north-east towards the far left. On the Isola della Giudecca on the right, the domes of the Zitelle and the nearer Redentore, possibly with the adjacent campanile of the lost church of San Giacomo;2 for the latter see the entry for a contemporary colour study from just off the Redentore (Tate D32141; Turner Bequest CCCXVI 4).
Ian Warrell has noted how within the year the view encompassed here would have informed the oil painting of the Giudecca, la Donna della Salute and San Georgio, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1841 (private collection):3 ‘To compensate for the fact that this watercolour ingeniously embraced an expansive field of vision, he created a more condensed approximation of space in the painting, thereby moving the Redentore to the right, beyond the frame of the image.’4
John Gage observed that among the various modes employed in this sketchbook, Tate D32134–D32137 (Turner Bequest CCCXV 18–21) ‘are in a muted range of greens and browns which seem to come from a direct experience of the subject’, whereas D32127–D32130 (CCCXV 11–14) ‘have a far more complex technique and brilliant colouring; which suggests that perhaps both modes were used interchangeably for indoor work.’5 This is symptomatic of the general issue of Turner’s direct use of colour outdoors, generally a moot point in his Venice work as it is for many other subjects, however immediate their effect.6 Andrew Wilton considered the present work ‘very similar in mood and treatment’ to D33120, D32128 and D32129 (CCCXV 4, 12, 13).7 Of these, D32128 (CCCXV 12) is a variant from further west. Lindsay Stainton described it and the present study as ‘two of the most beautiful ... irradiated with colour and reflected light’ in which forms ‘dissolve into a shimmering, opalescent mist’, along with Tate D32156 (Turner Bequest CCCXVI 19), on a separate contemporary sheet, looking northwards across the Bacino from off San Giorgio Maggiore.8
Other than noting the Giudecca setting, the Redentore and San Giorgio, John Ruskin was laconic but appreciative of this work in his 1857 commentary: ‘Very beautiful.’9 In 2008 the German-based Japanese painter and photographer Hiroyuki Masuyama (born 1968) produced an LED lightbox image based on it as one of a series reinterpreting Turner’s landscapes, combining the original composition with digitally layered photographic landscape and architectural elements.10
See also Warrell 1995, p.112.
See also Jeff Cotton, ‘San Giacomo della Giudecca’, The Churches of Venice, accessed 16 July 2018, https://www.churchesofvenice.co.uk/demolished.htm#sangiacguid.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.241 no.391, pl.395 (colour).
Warrell 2003, p.182; see also Piggott 2007, p.16.
Gage 1969, p.39.
See Sam Smiles, ‘Open air, work in’, in Evelyn Joll, Martin Butlin and Luke Herrmann (eds.), The Oxford Companion to J.M.W. Turner, Oxford 2001, pp.205–7.
Wilton 1975, p.139; see also p.142.
Stainton 1985, p.55.
Cook and Wedderburn 1904, p.214.
Madesani 2008, reproduced in colour p.33, as ‘The Giudecca Canal, Looking towards Santa Maria della Salute, 1840’, 2008.
Technical notes:
There is no underlying pencil work, all the fine architectural detail being drawn with ‘a pen dipped in watercolour’, and some use of ‘coloured crayons’ has also been detected.1 There is scratching out along the waterfront buildings at the centre and right, including a glint off the dome of the Redentore, and an isolated accent among the shadowy figures and boats below the Salute on the left.
Warrell 2003, p.272.
Blank, save for what appears to be a dark pink colour test towards the bottom right, and blue and grey offsets towards the right, originally at the gutter of the sketchbook; inscribed in pencil ‘8’ centre; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram over ‘CCCXV – 11’ bottom left; inscribed in pencil ‘CCCXV – 11’ towards bottom right.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘The Canale della Giudecca, Venice, with Santa Maria della Salute, San Giorgio Maggiore, the Zitelle and the Redentore to the East 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-the-canale-della-giudecca-venice-with-santa-maria-della-r1196838, accessed 17 May 2022.