Turner Painting Canaletto Painting Venice

This detail from a Turner oil painting of Venice, first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1833 over a decade after Turner visited the city, shows Canaletto painting one of his magnificent views of Venice. As the wall label in Tate Britain (where I came across it) pointed out, Canaletto’s canvas on his easel is “already improbably framed”. This tiny detail in the painting, so easily overlooked, makes me smile every time. The rest of the painting doesn’t do much for me; I prefer Turner’s wilder pieces where he paints mostly the atmosphere and weather.

Turner Painting Canaletto in Venice
“Bridge of Sighs, Ducal Palace and Custom-House, Venice: Canaletti Painting” by JMW Turner. Tate Britain. Oil on wood. 511 x 816 mm.

6 Replies to “Turner Painting Canaletto Painting Venice”

  1. I am trying follow up your pathway .from your** about .com journey ** . I allways like TURNER AND AIVOSOWSK? .. 1am a lover of paintings and small collector. 1 am 67 years old stiil working as a neurosurgeon M.D..never find a time to paint.,but with a small hope nmaybe one day 1will be able to find a time to painting..it is a endless hope in my mind…Therofore I still follow up you and your aticles

  2. Of course here, Turner has the secret desire to rival with Canaletto! The treatment of the solitary cloud on the right is a proof. But I am sure he quickly realized that he hadn’t the same patience to “draw” all the details that Canaletto was able to put in his paintings. So I understand better now why Turner later on will paint landscapes with more and more “evaporated” details lost into a fogged atmosphere. Of course he was right. And he was the precursor of Impressionism! Thanks Canaletto!
    At last, it is intriguing to see that “the painting in the painting” is in white and black.
    Tonal beginnings?

  3. Turner was certainly competitive Alain! Do you know about how he’d wait until his submission was hung in the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition and then on “varnishing day” he’d finish it to make the most of whatever light was falling on his painting and outshine the paintings next to his.

    And, yes, the black-and-white of Canaletto’s is intriguing. The unfinished Turners I’ve seen in Tate Britain he worked straightaway with colour himself.

  4. Suppositions.
    Another intriguing fact: I wonder if the location of Canaletto in this painting is the best one to paint the view he seems to paint. I suspect Turner to make a joke… Or Canaletto is painting the wonderful raw sienna sail and some boats around, but I have found the painting nowhere…I easily imagine Turner fascinated by this sail; perhaps a disguised self portrait showing that way his admiration for Canaletto? A kind of tribute.

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