Joseph Mallord William Turner, ‘Caligula’s Palace and Bridge’ exhibited 1831
Joseph Mallord William Turner, Caligula’s Palace and Bridge exhibited 1831 . Tate

Room 6 in Turner Collection

Turner's Europe

Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage - Italy

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage - Italy  exhibited 1832

This painting was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1832. It was so popular that people were advised to visit it as soon as the gallery opened to avoid crowds. One critic at the time said, ‘This is one of the noblest landscapes of our gifted artist; it has all the poetry of his best pictures, with all the true colouring of his less imaginative compositions.’ The title of this painting refers to Lord Byron’s long, epic poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. ‘Childe’ is an ancient title for the son of a nobleman. Turner showed his painting with these lines from Byron’s poem:
… and now, fair Italy!
Thou are the garden of the world…
Thy wreck a glory, and thy ruin graced
With an immaculate charm which cannot be defaced.’

Gallery label, July 2020

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Caligula’s Palace and Bridge

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Caligula’s Palace and Bridge  exhibited 1831

The theme of this painting is the decay of past glories. According to stories of ancient Rome, Emperor Caligula constructed a three-mile-long floating bridge between the towns of Puteoli and Baiae. He then crossed it on a horse. Caligula’s bridge was supposed to have been built from boats fastened together, but Turner depicted it as a solid construction. When it was first exhibited, a critic described the painting as ‘one of the most beautiful and magnificent landscapes that ever mind conceived or pencil drew’.

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Heidelberg

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

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Venice - Noon

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Venice - Noon  exhibited 1845

The pair to Venice - Sunset, a Fisher and exhibited with it with a reference, but no quotation, from Turner's manuscript poem Fallacies of Hope. Although the church of S. Giorgio and the Doge's palace are visible to left and right, the composition here is largely fanciful. The ruddy sunset colouring has since darkened, suggesting a melancholy air, but for a contemporary reviewer evoked 'a beautiful dream, full of Italy, and poetry, and summer'.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Venice - Sunset, a Fisher

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Venice - Sunset, a Fisher  exhibited 1845

The pair to Venice - Noon and exhibited with it with a reference, but no quotation, from Turner's manuscript poem Fallacies of Hope. The Salute appears in the middle distance.

Gallery label, August 2001

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Riva degli Schiavone, Venice: Water Fête

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Riva degli Schiavone, Venice: Water Fête  c.1845

This is one of a pair of paintings of Venetian festivals which were probably produced in the mid-1840s. This painting is not finished and was not exhibited. Turner may have painted it over another picture, laying his pigment on very thickly in order to obscure the painting underneath. Turner came to prefer using a shallow landscape format for his late Venetian subjects.

Gallery label, February 2010

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Dieppe: The Port from the Quai Henri IV

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Dieppe: The Port from the Quai Henri IV  ?1827–8

This painting was once part of a long roll of canvas on which Turner painted a sequence of images. Once one image was worked up to his satisfaction, he would move along to the next blank portion of the roll. The rolls were cut into separate canvases at the beginning of the 20th century to display the individual subjects.
The port of Dieppe on the Normandy coast of France was a starting point for Turner’s investigations of the Seine valley, of which he made many sketches. This painting has its origins in a pencil drawing of 1821.

Gallery label, July 2020

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Yorick and the Grisette

Gilbert Stuart Newton, Yorick and the Grisette  exhibited 1830

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

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

Turner based this view of Rouen on a sketch he made while travelling in France several years earlier. In place of the towers of Rouen cathedral, Turner has introduced a patch of watery sunlight. This contrasts with the foreground shadows. He took the reclining figures directly from his sketchbook drawing. They recall the idealised rural scenes of Antoine Watteau, an 18th-century French artist whose work particularly interested Turner.

Gallery label, July 2020

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Art in this room

Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage - Italy
Joseph Mallord William Turner Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage - Italy exhibited 1832
Caligula’s Palace and Bridge
Joseph Mallord William Turner Caligula’s Palace and Bridge exhibited 1831
Heidelberg
Joseph Mallord William Turner Heidelberg c.1844–5
Venice - Noon
Joseph Mallord William Turner Venice - Noon exhibited 1845
Venice - Sunset, a Fisher
Joseph Mallord William Turner Venice - Sunset, a Fisher exhibited 1845
Riva degli Schiavone, Venice: Water Fête
Joseph Mallord William Turner Riva degli Schiavone, Venice: Water Fête c.1845

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