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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Venice from the Canale di San Marco, with the Campanile and Domes of San Marco (St Mark's) in the Distance 1840

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Venice from the Canale di San Marco, with the Campanile and Domes of San Marco (St Mark’s) in the Distance 1840
Turner Bequest CCCXVI 18
Watercolour on white wove paper, 245 x 306 mm
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram towards bottom left
Stamped in black ‘CCCXVI 18’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Finberg later annotated his 1909 Inventory entry (‘Riva degli Schiavone, from channel to the Lido’), correcting ‘Schiavone’, crossing out the last four words in favour of ‘the Giudecca’, and adding: ‘Doga just showing on left’.1 The Turner scholar C.F. Bell marked his own copy: ‘San Giorgio should be shown, but is just left out’.2 Although the topography is less clearly defined than in other views over the Bacino, the general prospect appears to be north-westwards from the Canale di San Marco to the campanile and domes of San Marco (St Mark’s). The loosely defined forms where boats are moored on the left may indicate the north side of the Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore.
Lindsay Stainton has suggested a link with the oil painting of fishing boats, The Sun of Venice going to Sea, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1843 (Tate N00535),3 where the lightly indicated backdrop of the distant city is also ‘topographically inexact’.4 While Ian Warrell used it as an example likely derived from Canaletto’s panoramic Bacino compositions,5 Gerald Finley has called the present work ‘a beguiling compromise between fact and fantasy’.6 As Warrell has noted, the facts are presented in the way Turner ‘positions a group of fishermen on a sandbank, pulling in their nets, a reminder that even the principal channel of the Canale di San Marco possessed dangerous shallows for those unfamiliar with its hazards.’7
In 1857, John Ruskin appreciatively described Turner’s treatment: ‘Very exquisite in colour and gradation, and the placing of the boats, and drawing the nets.’8 The colour and handling of Tate D32156 (Turner Bequest CCCXVI 19), a view from the far side of San Giorgio, are closely comparable; Stainton has observed that the ‘combination of cool tones of aquamarine merging into shades of yellow with touches of pink was one which Turner frequently used in his Venetian watercolours’.9 Warrell has noted that the banded effect with superimposed details made this work ‘especially popular with copyists during the nineteenth century, many of whom had been exhorted to attempt the academic exercise by Ruskin’. One by his pupil Isabella Lee Jay (working 1868–96) was among others of hers in the Ruskin collection at Bembridge School (now at the Ruskin Library, University of Lancaster); another, anonymous copy is at the Courtauld Gallery, London.10
Undated MS note by Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1019 and opposite.
Undated MS note by Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Prints and Drawings Room, Tate Britain, II, p.1019.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.250–2 no.402, pl.408 (colour).
Stainton 1985, p.34; see also Warrell 2003, p.227.
See Warrell 2003, p.47.
Finley 1999, p.34.
Warrell 2003, p.227.
Cook and Wedderburn 1904, p.210.
Stainton 1985, p.59; see also Lyles 1992, p.83, and Finley1999, p.34.
Warrell 1995, p.97; for the Courtauld copy, see Broughton, Clarke and Selbourne 2005, p.240 no.91, reproduced in colour.
Technical notes:
There is no underlying pencil work, the distant architectural details being defined by a loose network of fine strokes, likely made with a pen dipped in colour; the forms of the fishermen and boats are also selectively outlined in stronger reds.1 There is some rubbing or scratching out where the domes and campanile catch the light.
This is one of numerous 1840 Venice works Ian Warrell has noted as on sheets of ‘white paper produced [under the name] Charles Ansell,2 each measuring around 24 x 30 cm, several watermarked with the date “1828”’:3 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)4 and Venice: The New Moon (currently untraced)5 ‘may belong to this group’.6
See Stainton 1985, p.59; see also Lyles 1992, p.83, Warrell 1995, p.97, and Warrell 2003, p.273.
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 by Turner in pencil ‘6 V’ bottom left; inscribed in pencil ‘9’ towards top left; stamped in black ‘CCCXVI – 18’ over Turner Bequest monogram below centre. For the artist’s numbering of various Venetian subjects, see the Introduction to the tour.

Matthew Imms
July 2018

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Venice from the Canale di San Marco, with the Campanile and Domes of San Marco (St Mark’s) in the Distance 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-venice-from-the-canale-di-san-marco-with-the-campanile-and-r1196990, accessed 22 September 2021.