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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Venice to Ancona Sketchbook 1819

Turner Bequest CLXXVI 1–86a
Sketchbook, bound in boards, covered in grey paper quarter-bound over brown leather spine; one brass clasp
90 leaves and pastedowns of white wove paper, page size 111 x 184 mm; partial watermark ‘Allnutt | 18’
Made by Thomas Smith and Henry Allnutt of Ivy Mill, Maidstone, Kent
Inscribed by Turner in ink ‘Venice to Ancona’ top centre of the front cover (D40894)
Inscribed by Turner in ink ‘[?9] Venice to Ancona’ on a label on the spine (D40893)
Inscribed by Turner in ink ‘4’ on the top edge of the page block
Numbered 318 as part of the Turner Schedule in 1854 and endorsed by the Executors of the Turner Bequest, inside front cover (D40895)
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram top left and inscribed in pencil and stamped in black ‘CLXXVI’ top right of front cover (D40894)
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The first quarter or so of this sketchbook (folios 2 recto–21 recto; D14491–D14527) comprises topographical views of Venice, presumably made towards the end of Turner’s brief first stay in the city in September 1819 during his first Italian tour. They complement the drawings made there in the latter two thirds of the similar Milan to Venice sketchbook (Tate; Turner Bequest CLXXV), under which Turner’s Venice work is discussed in general terms.1 Afterwards, he filled the rest of the present book as he travelled south-west to Bologna, and then south-east to Ancona on the Adriatic coast, before turning inland again, ultimately headed for Rome.2
In Venice, Turner began using this book in the Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square) on folio 2 recto (D14491), moved out through the Piazzetta to the Molo (folio 3 recto; D14492) and walked eastwards along the quays of the Riva degli Schiavoni, making a number of mostly double-page views looking back along the waterfront, west across the north side of the Bacino to the domes of Santa Maria della Salute, and south to the church on the Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore (folios 3 verso–10 recto; D14493–D14506). The detail in this sequence increases as he moved further from the entrance to the Piazzetta and adjacent buildings already carefully recorded in the other book.
Sunset studies and mountainous view of folio 11 recto (D14508) may have been made elsewhere, but the Venice subjects then continue in a somewhat haphazard sequence: folios 11 verso–12 recto (D14509–D14510) show the view north over the islands of the Lagoon towards the mainland, folios 12 verso–13 recto (D14511–D14512) the Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal, folio 14 recto (D14513) the Tolentini church towards the north-west entrance of the canal, and folios 14 verso–15 recto (D14514–D14515) St Mark’s. Between folios 15 verso and 21 recto (D14516–D14527), numerous studies of varying size and detail apparently made in the course of a single excursion out on the waters of the Bacino and the Canale della Giudecca round off the foliated sequence of Venice, with an apocalyptic note of ‘all the steeples blood red’ on D14526. There are slight sketches of Venetian buildings inside the back cover (D40897), perhaps recollected later in the journey, while folio 52 recto (D14582; Turner Bequest CLXXVI 48) shows unidentified buildings and boats, perhaps at Venice or later on the journey.
Finberg felt that the ‘sketches in the second book differ somewhat in character from those in the first. They are less obviously made for the purpose of storing information, and are more directly concerned with ideas of future pictures. The difference, however, is slight; it is a matter of degree and of emphasis.’3 Luke Herrmann has considered what he characterised as Turner’s ‘much less detailed’ drawings here as ‘a sure sign that he was now confident that the essential features of the city were now stored in his powerful visual memory’,4 while James Hamilton has perceived ‘a precision and an expansiveness in the drawings in the two Venice sketchbooks that show Turner taking his time, and assuring himself that he would return again and again’.5 Hardy George has noted that the Venice sketchbook (Tate; Turner Bequest CCCXIV), used on Turner’s next visit in 1833 (Tate; Turner Bequest CCCXIV), ‘repeats most of the subjects’ drawn in 1819.6
Upon leaving Venice, likely on Monday 13 September,7 Turner travelled south-west towards Ferrara, sketched hastily inside the front cover (D40893), possibly recording a scene on the River Po in the vicinity (folio 10 verso; D14507); boats on the river are shown on folio 90 verso (D14652; Turner Bequest CLXXVI 86a). Perhaps still digesting his first experience of Venice, he made very few other drawings (folios 21 verso–23 recto; D14528–D14531) before arriving at Bologna,8 his next major stopping point, around a hundred miles on from Venice (see under folio 24 recto; D14532). Here he filled roughly another quarter of the book with studies in and around the city, before turning south-east towards the Adriatic coast, making drawings every few miles through a string of towns, small cities and intervening sites between folios 43 recto and 69 recto (D14566–D14613; Turner Bequest CLXXVI 39–65);9 each is listed here in terms of a single or key page:
?Imola (folio 37 verso; D14555; CLXXVI 33a); Faenza (47 recto; D14574; CLXXVI 43); Forlì (44 verso; D14569; CLXXVI 40a); Forlimpopolo (46 recto; D14572; CLXXVI 42); Cesena (46 verso; D14573; CLXXVI 42a); River Ronco (49 verso; D14579; CLXXVI 45a); Rimini (57 recto; D14592; CLXXVI 53a); San Marino (56 recto; D14590; CLXXVI 52); Gradara (61 recto; D14599; CLXXVI 57); Pesaro (61 verso; D14600; CLXXVI 57a); Fano (62 verso; D14602; CLXXVI 58a); Senigállia (67 verso; D14610; CLXXVI 63a); Rocca Priora (68 verso; D14612; CLXXVI 64a)
As he had at Ferrara, Turner paid notable attention to various massive rocca fortifications, as well as Roman monuments and everyday urban scenes, along this route. He concluded the sketchbook with an extensive survey of the port and city of Ancona (see under folio 99 verso; D14613; Turner Bequest CLXXVI 65a), about 140 miles from Bologna. This phase of the journey south would have been informed by condensed ink notes made from the 1815 edition of J.C. Eustace’s A Classical Tour through Italy in the contemporary Italian Guidebook sketchbook (Tate D13938; Turner Bequest CLXXII 4, transcribed and catalogued by Nicola Moorby); the passage beginning in Bologna is repeated here:
La Madonna di S Luca | 2 Towrs of brick Degli Asinella & dei Garisendi | Academy at Bologna and Science contains | wax models v curious Instituto & University | Public Fountain . [in pencil: ‘by J of Bol. good figure Ex legs’] | Imola. 20 Miles from B .. | To Faenza 10 M | Forli 9 Miles The tabernacle in the chapel of the sacrament | said to be M Angelo Benedictine Abbey of Mercuria | le | To Forlimpopoli 4 M Cesena 7 Mile. | on Castle and ancient Bridge of 3 arches | 2 Miles in the Pisatello or Rubicon. | St Marino | Savignano. 4 Miles Luso 6 M further. | Rimini bridge of the Ariminum marble | Gate and Arch of Agustus | Cattolica | 10 Miles. Pesaro Churches S Giovanni | La Misericordia S Carlo Bridge over | the Foglia | 7 miles to Farno a triumphal Arch to Ag | a gallery or arcade of 5 arches terribly [?defaced] | Bridge over the Metaurus. Monte Asdrubal | about 3 Miles from – Fossombrone on the Forli Road | Two hours Senegaglia | To Ancona 20 Miles. The Mole. port | triumphal arch to Trajan .. the Church of | Agostiniani. Giesu by (Vanvitelli)
For the Rubicon, see under folio 21 verso (D14528), and for Turner’s pencil note concerning Giambologna’s fountain at Bologna, perhaps added on the spot or soon afterwards, see under folio 27 recto (D14538; Turner Bequest CLXXVI 26d). Typically, there are a few incidental pages showing local figures and livestock; see under folio 1 recto (D14489). For studies of boats, see under folio 7 verso (D14501).
Turner’s own system of numbering and labelling his numerous Italian sketchbooks is discussed in the entry for the front cover (D40894).10 Finberg noted John Ruskin’s comments on a wrapper formerly kept with the sketchbook: ‘318. Venice to Ancona. Very careless. A few fine things’.11
As quoted and cited individually, the entries here have been informed by extensive manuscript notes by Finberg and C.F. Bell in copies of Finberg’s Inventory held at Tate Britain, transcriptions of Bell’s notes elsewhere by Ian Warrell, and the latter’s own notes in Tate catalogue files.
See also Stainton 1985, pp.13, 14, Hamilton 2008, pp.42–3, 90 note 11, and Hamilton 2009, pp.40–1, 150 note 11.
For accounts of the route and subjects between Venice and Ancona, alsocited in individual entries, see Powell 1984, pp.78, 83, 93–4, 466–7 note 115, Powell 1987, pp.22, 24–6, Hamilton 2008, pp.43–4, and Hamilton 2009, p.42.
Finberg 1930, p.58, as part of a broader discussion, pp.58, 61; see also pp.19, 21, 22, 167, and Finberg 1961, p.261.
Herrmann 1975, p.[29]; see also Herrmann 2001, p.359.
Hamilton 1997, p.197.
George 1984, p.10.
Warrell 2003, p.17; see Powell 1984, p.82, giving Turner’s departure as ‘12 or 13 September’, and p.462 note 61, citing documentation in Hardy George, ‘Turner in Venice’, unpublished Ph.D thesis, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London 1970, p.65; see also Powell 1987, p.24; Hamilton 2009, p.150 note 9, notes other possibilities, discussed in the Introduction to the Milan to Venice sketchbook in the present catalogue.
See Powell 1984, p.82, and Powell 1987, p.24.
See Powell 1984, pp.89–90, 92.
See also Warrell 2014, pp.15, 234.
Finberg 1909, I, p.516.
The relevant text in Finberg’s Inventory is as follows:

[Page] 26. Do. do. [i.e. ditto: A town; probably Bologna.]
(The following four leaves were found loose, but appear to belong here.)
„ 26a. [bracketed with ‘26b’, immediately below, as one entry] Palazzo Publico, Bologna, with fountain of Neptune in foreground.
„ 26c. Bridge, with buildings on a hill.
„ 26d. Palazzo del Podestà, and other buildings.
„ 26e. Various figures, &c.
„ 26f. The Piazza del Nettuno ; also “Arcade to Madonna del ...” (probably Madonna di San Luca).
„ 26g. Buildings on an eminence.
„ 26h. View of Bologna, with the Torre Asinelli to the right.
„ 27. Church with Campanile. S. Francesco.22
In the foliation of an undisturbed sketchbook, Finberg’s ‘a’ suffix generally indicates a verso, but the placing of the note between ‘26’ and ‘26a’ would seem to imply the latter as a face of one of the separated leaves in this case. However, the comment may have been placed at that point in the text in order to bracket it with ‘26b’ as a single subject, the usual convention for a double-page drawing. In the sequence below, reflecting the physical inscriptions and stamps on the pages as noted in individual entries and the longstanding linkage of Turner Bequest numbers with Tate ‘D’ accession numbers, the verso of folio 26, which had apparently remained in the book, has become ‘26b’, while 28 recto is ‘26a’. If confusion had not arisen and Finberg’s order interpreted as suggested below, what are now folios 27 and 28 would have been transposed, resolving the alphabetical sequence of suffixes.
On the other hand, the slight, rather loose continuations of architectural details on folios 26 verso and 27 verso as now bound do seem to be more likely to match up with the full-page views on folios 27 recto and 28 recto respectively than if those leaves were transposed as Finberg seems to imply. The issue is not a major one, but typical of the occasional awkward discrepancies arising from the restoration of sketchbook pages which had been extracted for display in the nineteenth century. In this instance there is no record of such an event, and the presence of a note apparently made at the earliest stages of National Gallery ownership may imply that the pages had already been detached for some reason, possibly by the artist himself.
FolioTateTurner Bequest
26 RectoD14534CLXXVI 26
26 VersoD14536CLXXVI 26b (?Finberg 1909 as ‘26a’)
27 RectoD14538CLXXVI 26d
27 VersoD14539CLXXVI 26e
28 RectoD14535CLXXVI 26a (?Finberg 1909 as ‘26b’)
28 VersoD14537CLXXVI 26c
29 RectoD14540CLXXVI 26f
29 VersoD14541CLXXVI 26g
30 RectoD14542CLXXVI 26h
30 Verso-[blank]
31 RectoD14543CLXXVI 27
32 RectoD14544CLXXVI 28
32 VersoD14545CLXXVI 28a
33 RectoD14546CLXXVI 29
33 VersoD14547CLXXVI 29a
34 RectoD14548CLXXVI 30
34 VersoD14549CLXXVI 30a
35 RectoD14550CLXXVI 31
35 VersoD14551CLXXVI 31a
36 RectoD14552CLXXVI 32
36 VersoD14553CLXXVI 32a
37 RectoD14554CLXXVI 33
37 VersoD14555CLXXVI 33a
38 RectoD14556CLXXVI 34
38 VersoD14557CLXXVI 34a
39 RectoD14558CLXXVI 35
39 VersoD14559CLXXVI 35a
40 RectoD14560CLXXVI 36
40 VersoD14561CLXXVI 36a
41 RectoD14562CLXXVI 37
41 VersoD14563CLXXVI 37a
42 RectoD14564CLXXVI 38
42 VersoD14565CLXXVI 38a
43 RectoD14566CLXXVI 39
43 VersoD14567CLXXVI 39a
44 RectoD14568CLXXVI 40
44 VersoD14569CLXXVI 40a
45 RectoD14570CLXXVI 41
45 VersoD14571CLXXVI 41a
46 RectoD14572CLXXVI 42
46 VersoD14573CLXXVI 42a
47 RectoD14574CLXXVI 43
47 VersoD14575CLXXVI 43a
48 RectoD14576CLXXVI 44
48 VersoD14577CLXXVI 44a
49 RectoD14578CLXXVI 45
49 VersoD14579CLXXVI 45a
50 RectoD14580CLXXVI 46
51 RectoD14581CLXXVI 47
52 RectoD14582CLXXVI 48
52 VersoD14583CLXXVI 48a
53 RectoD14584CLXXVI 49
53 VersoD14585CLXXVI 49a
54 RectoD14586CLXXVI 50
54 VersoD14587CLXXVI 50a
55 RectoD14588CLXXVI 51
55 VersoD14589CLXXVI 51a
56 RectoD14590CLXXVI 52
56 VersoD14591CLXXVI 53
57 RectoD14592CLXXVI 53a
58 RectoD14593CLXXVI 54
48 VersoD14594CLXXVI 54a
59 RectoD14595CLXXVI 55
59 VersoD14596CLXXVI 55a
60 RectoD14597CLXXVI 56
60 VersoD14598CLXXVI 56a
61 RectoD14599CLXXVI 57
61 VersoD14600CLXXVI 57a
62 RectoD14601CLXXVI 58
62 VersoD14602CLXXVI 58a
63 RectoD14603CLXXVI 59
63 VersoD14604CLXXVI 59a
64 RectoD14605CLXXVI 60
65 RectoD14606CLXXVI 61
65 VersoD14607CLXXVI 61 v
66 RectoD14608CLXXVI 62
67 RectoD14609CLXXVI 63
67 VersoD14610CLXXVI 63a
68 RectoD14611CLXXVI 64
68 VersoD14612CLXXVI 64a
69 RectoD14613CLXXVI 65
69 VersoD14614CLXXVI 65a
70 RectoD14615CLXXVI 66
70 VersoD14616CLXXVI 66a
71 RectoD14617CLXXVI 67
71 VersoD14618CLXXVI 67a
72 RectoD14619CLXXVI 68
72 VersoD14620CLXXVI 68a
73 RectoD14621CLXXVI 69
73 VersoD14622CLXXVI 69a
74 RectoD14623CLXXVI 70
74 VersoD14624CLXXVI 70a
75 RectoD14625CLXXVI 71
75 VersoD14626CLXXVI 71a
76 RectoD14627CLXXVI 72
76 VersoD14628CLXXVI 72a
77 RectoD14629CLXXVI 73
77 VersoD14630CLXXVI 73a
78 RectoD14631CLXXVI 74
78 VersoD14632CLXXVI 74a
79 RectoD14633CLXXVI 75
79 VersoD14634CLXXVI 75a
80 RectoD14635CLXXVI 76
80 VersoD14636CLXXVI 76a
81 RectoD14637CLXXVI 77
81 VersoD14638CLXXVI 77a
82 RectoD14639CLXXVI 78
82 VersoD14640CLXXVI 78a
83 RectoD14641CLXXVI 79
83 VersoD14642CLXXVI 79a
84 RectoD14643CLXXVI 80
84 VersoD14644CLXXVI 80a
85 RectoD14645CLXXVI 81
85 VersoD14646CLXXVI 81a
86 RectoD14647CLXXVI 82
87 RectoD14648CLXXVI 83
88 RectoD14649CLXXVI 84
89 RectoD14650CLXXVI 85
90 RectoD14651CLXXVI 86
90 RectoD14652CLXXVI 86a
Inside Back CoverD40897-
Finberg noted a ‘Leaf torn out’ after CLXXVI 83, and another after CLXXVI 85;23 there is now no evidence of the former, but preceding CLXXVI 86 (D14651) there remains a short, jagged stub, which has not been foliated here.
Ibid., p.519.

Matthew Imms
March 2017

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How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Venice to Ancona Sketchbook 1819’, sketchbook, March 2017, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, July 2017, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/venice-to-ancona-sketchbook-r1186220, accessed 23 May 2024.