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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

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

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Venice (The Rialto – Moonlight), for Rogers’s ‘Poems’ circa 1830–2
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 196
Watercolour, approximately 130 x 140 mm on white wove paper, 239 x 305 mm
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 196’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This vignette, Venice (The Rialto – Moonlight), was published in the 1834 edition of Rogers’s Poems to illustrate a poem entitled ‘Human Life’.1 It was engraved by William Miller,2 and designed to complement the following lines which Turner marked with pencil in the margin of his own copy of the 1827 edition of Poems (see Tate D36330; Turner Bequest CCCLXVI p.103):
Now the scene shifts to Venice – to a square
Glittering with light, all nations masking there,
With light reflected on the tremulous tide,
Where gondolas in gay confusion glide,
Answering the jest, the song on every side
(Poems, p.95)
The Rialto Bridge was a well-known Venetian landmark and one that Turner had already sketched extensively during his 1819 tour of Italy (see the Milan to Venice sketchbook, Turner Bequest CLXXV). The composition of the view meanwhile, with a gondola floating along a shimmering canal is similar to that of another vignette illustration by Turner, The Bridge of Sighs circa 1830 (private collection), engraved by Edward Finden,3 and published in Byron’s Life and Works, (volume XI, 1832).4
Samuel Rogers, Poems, London 1834, p.95.
W.G. Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., vol.II, London 1913, no.386. There is one impression in Tate’s collection (T06645).
Wilton 1979, no.1225; Rawlinson 1909, no.421.
Byron 1832, vol.XI; See Warrell, Laven, Morris and others 2003, pp.75–8.
Inscribed by ?the artist in pencil ‘High Holborn’ top left, descending left-hand edge. Also in unknown hands in pencil ‘NG’ top centre and ‘21’ upper centre and ‘29 b’ centre and ‘CCLXXX.196’ bottom. Also in red ink ‘029’ top right, inverted
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 196’ lower centre

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

How to cite

Meredith Gamer, ‘Venice (The Rialto – Moonlight), for 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-venice-the-rialto-moonlight-for-rogerss-poems-r1133355, accessed 25 February 2021.