In Pictures | Cant travel to Venice this summer? Immerse yourself in J.M.W. Turners paintings of the watery city

“Turners views of Venice are among the most enduring responses to that spectacular but uniquely fragile city,” writes Ian Warrell, the author of a new publication called Venice With Turner, outlining depictions of the Italian city by J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851). Turner only made three visits to Venice, amounting to almost four weeks in total, but his progress through the lagoon city is expertly captured in Warrells extensive survey. The book includes the artists renderings of St Marks Basilica, the Dorsoduro district, the Giudecca canal and the Fondamente Nove area, along with other Venetian panoramas and landmarks. The works are “as colourful and vibrant as Canalettos scenes; as wistful as Guardis skilful impressions; as mysterious as Whistlers nocturnes; and as resonant as Monets late souvenirs,” Warrell writes. Below are a selection of five images reflecting Turners Venetian odyssey.

The Dogano, San Giorgio, Citella, from the Steps of the Europa (exhibited 1842) © Tate

The Dogano, San Giorgio, Citella, from the Steps of the Europa (exhibited 1842)

“Without even having to leave the steps of the Hotel Europa, Turner had one of the finest views of Venice, looking out over the wide, deep anchorage of the Bacino di San Marco [St Marks Basin],” Warell writes. The artists vista is framed on the right by the Dogana da Mar, a former sea customs house, and on the left by the majestic monastery church of San Giorgio Maggiore. The scale of the panorama across the Bacino overwhelmed Turner. “His sketchbooks frequently contain compositions that jump from page to page (and sometimes extend to further sheets) in order to encompass the great landmarks surrounding the ceremonial heart of the city,” Warrell says.

The Steps of Santa Maria della Salute, looking up the Grand Canal (1840) © Tate

The Steps of Santa Maria della Salute, looking up the Grand Canal (1840)

Turner would have seen Canalettos paintings of the Grand Canal, which were widely reproduced as etchings by Antonio Visentini in the early 18th century. Warrell points out that Turner subsequently painted the Grand Canal from the same viewpoints as Canaletto though both perhaps simply made use of the ferry points on the canal. The gondola near the steps stands out in this watercolour, while the Santa Maria della Salute church appears as a mirage on the left. “Turner generally cropped or blurred its full baroque extravagance, opting to represent it as a pale and ghostly presence, defined by shade as much as by either sun or moonlight,” Warrell says.

The Church of San Luca and the Back of the Palazzo Grimani from the Rio San Luca (around 1840) © Tate

The Church of San Luca and the Back of the Palazzo Grimani from the Rio San Luca (around 1840)

Turner put his own spin on the off-the-beaten track areas of the city as well as the more populous routes. Here, Turner uses the framing device of a bridge arch in this gouache dominated by the 16th-century Palazzo Grimani, which overlooks the Grand Canal and the smaller Rio San Luca canal off the citys main waterway. “A sequence of studies on grey and blue paper explore this smaller canal [Rio San Luca], which Turner first encountered 20 years earlier when staying nearby at the neighbouring Albergo Leon Bianco,” Warrell writes. The discreet splashes of red paint anchor the busy work that conveys the grandeur of Venices architectural heritage.

The Western End of the Giudecca Canal, from near the Convent of San Biagio e Cataldo, from the Grand Canal and Giudecca Sketchbook (1840) © Tate

The Western End of the Giudecca Canal, from near the Convent of San Biagio e Cataldo from the Grand Canal and Giudecca Sketchbook (1840)

This watercolour, showing a vessel in the foregRead More – Source