Joseph Mallord William Turner, ‘The Opening of the Wallhalla, 1842’ exhibited 1843
Joseph Mallord William Turner, The Opening of the Wallhalla, 1842 exhibited 1843 . Tate

Room 3 in Turner Collection

Travelling Light

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Art in Travelling Light

The Dogano, San Giorgio, Citella, from the Steps of the Europa

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
The Dogano, San Giorgio, Citella, from the Steps of the Europa
exhibited 1842

‘Venice was surely built to be painted by ... Turner’, wrote the critic of the Art Union when he first saw this work in 1842. Unlike his paintings of Rome, Turner’s impression of the city was not dominated by ancient ruins and the historical past. Instead he explored Venice’s unique combination of water, light and grand Renaissance architecture, all of which seem to blend together. Here he is transfixed by the spectacle of the churches of Santa Maria della Salute and Santa Maria della Presentazione, known as the ‘Zitelle’ (or Citella), reflected in the waters of the Guidecca Canal.

Gallery label, February 2010

The Opening of the Wallhalla, 1842

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
The Opening of the Wallhalla, 1842
exhibited 1843

Between 1817 and 1844, Turner made
seven tours of Germany. In Turner’s time,
Germany consisted of many different
states, formed as the German
Confederation in 1814 after the fall of
Napoleon, who had ruled since 1806.
This painting commemorates the 1842
opening of the Walhalla temple (‘Wallhalla’
in Turner’s spelling), a classical building
overlooking the river Danube, constructed
under the auspices of king Ludwig I of
Bavaria as a symbol of national unity
and a monument to great Germans of
the past.

At the Royal Academy, Turner exhibited the
painting with lines from his poem Fallacies of
Hope:
‘L’honneur au Roi de Bavière’:
Who rode on thy relentless car, fallacious Hope?
He, though scathed at Ratisbon, poured on
The tide of war o’er all thy plain, Bavare,
Like the swollen Danube to the gates of Wien.
But peace returns – the morning ray
Beams on the Wallhalla, reared to science, and
the arts,
For men renowned, of German fatherland.

Gallery label, February 2010

Rocky Bay with Figures

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Rocky Bay with Figures
c.1827–30

The painting is unfinished but was intended to become a subject from Homer's 'Odyssey' or 'Iliad'. The scenery is clearly Mediterranean, and there are suggestions of figures on the beach at left, and antique ships in the right distance and under the cliffs at left.

Gallery label, September 2004

St Benedetto, Looking towards Fusina

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
St Benedetto, Looking towards Fusina
exhibited 1843

This painting demonstrates Turner’s ability to capture and define the spirit of place. Despite the baffling absence of any church named San Benedetto, the view is an authentic Venetian prospect looking from the Giudecca Canal towards Fusina on the mainland. More than that, however, it was Turner’s stylistic treatment of colour, light and water which constituted the very essence of how people thought about Venice. This was most clearly expressed by John Ruskin who wrote that ‘without one single accurate detail’ it was ‘the likest thing to what it is meant for ... of all that I have ever seen’.

Gallery label, February 2010

The Sun of Venice Going to Sea

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
The Sun of Venice Going to Sea
exhibited 1843

Steering through the glassy waters in this picture is a ‘bragozzo’, a characteristic Venetian fishing boat. The name emblazoned on the sail is the ‘Sol di Venezia’, or ‘Sun of Venice’ and, laid out in a shimmering haze of colour in the distance beyond, is the city itself. Those who read Turner’s accompanying poem in the Royal Academy catalogue of 1843 would have found an unexpected premonition of doom contained therein. According to his verses a ‘demon in grim repose’ lay in wait for the boat. Even the temperate waters of the lagoon contained dangers for those who ventured afloat.

Gallery label, February 2010

Heidelberg

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Heidelberg
c.1844–5

The crowd of figures belonged to the court of the ‘Winter Queen’, Princess Elizabeth. Formerly Elizabeth Stuart, she was the eldest daughter of King James I of England and Ireland (previously King James VI Scotland). Princess Elizabeth married the Elector Palatine of the Rhine (southwest Germany), Friedrich V, in 1613. The couple are shown sitting on the left, with Heidelberg castle on the hillside behind them. Their court was briefly famous for its extravagant entertainments, although Friedrich lost control of the Palatine in 1620, and the couple fled to Holland. Elizabeth and Friedrich were given the nicknames ‘Winter Queen’ and ‘Winter King’ to reflect their short-lived reign.

Gallery label, February 2019

Palestrina - Composition

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Palestrina - Composition
1828, exhibited 1830

This painting is thought to be a work which Turner planned to paint for his patron,
Lord Egremont, during his second visit
to Rome in 1828. Lord Egremont wanted
a companion picture to a landscape
by Claude Lorrain in his collection.

Described as a 'Composition' rather
than a 'View', it is an impression of Italy
in its contemporary decline. It is based on Palestrina, the city which in ancient Roman times had been known as Praeneste, and whose loveliness had been praised by the poets Virgil and Horace.

Gallery label, September 2004

Italian Landscape with Bridge and Tower

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Italian Landscape with Bridge and Tower
c.1827–8

Some years after his first extensive tour of the country, Turner made a number of unfinished oil studies of landscapes inspired by Italian subjects (see also Tivoli, the Cascatelle, hanging nearby). The works were freely painted on a continuous roll of canvas, tacked onto a small stretcher.

The location represented in this painting is unidentified but the hazy blue background, the aqueduct or bridge in the centre, and the tree dominating the right hand foreground, are all elements inspired by classical Italianate compositions. Turner had inherited this tradition from artists such as Claude Lorrain (about 1600-82) and Richard Wilson (1713-82).

Gallery label, February 2010

Rouen: A View from the Left Bank in the Faubourg St-Sever

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
Rouen: A View from the Left Bank in the Faubourg St-Sever
?1827–8

This was once thought to be a view of Italy, perhaps the garden of a Roman villa. It is now known to be based on a small jotting in a sketchbook Turner used while travelling through northern France.

In place of the towers of Rouen cathedral, Turner has introduced a patch of watery sunlight that contrasts with the foreground shadows. The reclining figures are taken directly from the sketchbook drawing. However, they also recall the pastoral scenes of Antoine Watteau, an eighteenth-century artist whose work particularly interested Turner in the 1820s and 1830s.

Gallery label, February 2010

Art in this room

The Dogano, San Giorgio, Citella, from the Steps of the Europa
Joseph Mallord William Turner The Dogano, San Giorgio, Citella, from the Steps of the Europa exhibited 1842
The Opening of the Wallhalla, 1842
Joseph Mallord William Turner The Opening of the Wallhalla, 1842 exhibited 1843
Rocky Bay with Figures
Joseph Mallord William Turner Rocky Bay with Figures c.1827–30
St Benedetto, Looking towards Fusina
Joseph Mallord William Turner St Benedetto, Looking towards Fusina exhibited 1843
The Sun of Venice Going to Sea
Joseph Mallord William Turner The Sun of Venice Going to Sea exhibited 1843
Heidelberg
Joseph Mallord William Turner Heidelberg c.1844–5

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