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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Views up and down the Rio del Canonica, Venice, with the Bridge of Sighs in the Distance 1840

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 57 Recto:
Views up and down the Rio del Canonica, Venice, with the Bridge of Sighs in the Distance 1840
Turner Bequest CCCX 57
Pencil on cream wove paper, 126 x 198 mm
Partial watermark ‘atman
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘Venice’ bottom centre
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘57’ top right, ascending vertically
Stamped in black ‘CCCX – 57’ top right, ascending vertically
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This page was used both horizontally and vertically for sketches in opposite directions from the same viewpoint. The horizontal view shows the prospect south-south-east down the Rio del Palazzo, with the Ponte della Canonica in the foreground and the elevated Bridge of Sighs beyond. The first bridge’s balustraded approach up broad, shallow steps is loosely indicated on the right. The familiar buildings towards the New Prisons on the left and the looming Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) on the right are barely articulated. Compare the more detailed drawing from the Ponte della Canonica itself in the contemporary Rotterdam to Venice sketchbook (Tate D32439; Turner Bequest CCCXX 90).
Turner was standing on the narrow bridge carrying the Calle de la Canonica over the canal. He turned around to make the second drawing, smaller but in slightly more detail and at right-angles to the first. Looking north-north-west, it shows the Ponte dei Consorzi, the next bridge in that direction, carrying the Calle Larga San Marco. The building beyond it to the left, with slight indications of Gothic detail, is the red-brick Palazzo Donà, now a hotel.
As noted in the sketchbook’s Introduction, the Venice views on its early pages are intermingled with German sketches from Turner’s return journey. The present page, falling between later subjects in and around Passau, must have been opened and used at random weeks earlier. Unusually, Turner has marked the page ‘Venice’, perhaps while using up the surrounding pages or to remind himself when reviewing the sketchbook later. For the Bridge of Sighs, see also see also folios 15 verso (where other views are noted), 16 recto, 17 recto and 18 recto (D31306–D31307, D31309–D31310), the last of the main sequence of Venice views.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Views up and down the Rio del Canonica, Venice, with the Bridge of Sighs in the Distance 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-views-up-and-down-the-rio-del-canonica-venice-with-the-r1196176, accessed 03 December 2021.