National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Venice: The Dogana and San Giorgio Maggiore Joseph Mallord William Turner (artist)
British, 1775 - 1851
Venice: The Dogana and San Giorgio Maggiore, 1834
oil on canvas
overall: 91.5 x 122 cm (36 x 48 1/16 in.) framed: 125.7 x 156.5 x 14 cm (49 1/2 x 61 5/8 x 5 1/2 in.)
Widener Collection
1942.9.85
On View
From the Tour: Constable and Turner — British Landscapes of the Early 1800s
Object 6 of 11

At the “especial suggestion” of a British textile manufacturer, Turner devised this Venetian cityscape as a symbolic salute to commerce. Gondolas carry cargoes of fine fabrics and exotic spices. On the right is the Dogana, or Customs House, topped by a statue of Fortune, which Turner greatly enlarged in size. Moreover, the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore has been pushed very far back in space, making the Grand Canal seem much wider than it really is.

These theatrical exaggerations and the precise, linear drafting of the architecture owe much to Canaletto, an eighteenth-century Venetian painter whose art glorified his city. At the 1834 Royal Academy show, critics gave enraptured praise to the scene’s radiant, sparkling waters. The next year, another commission from the same patron resulted in its moonlit companion piece, Keelmen Heaving in Coals by Moonlight.

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