Turner made his first visit to Venice in 1819 but apart from producing 4 watercolours while there, some illustrations which had been commissioned and a further 2 watercolours for a private client, he did not return to Venice as a subject until 1833 when he saw the success of Samuel Prout and Richard Bonington. He returned to Venice in 1833 and again for a longer stay in 1840 when he produced some magnificent atmospheric watercolours.
I examine his sketches and watercolours made on the spot, as well as his studio oils, and explore his interest in Byron’s romantic concept of the fallen power of the Venetian Republic. I also discuss the modernity of some of Turner’s later atmospheric paintings of Venice which were never publicly displayed. In many ways Venice was a catalyst for much of Turner’s experimentation in light, atmosphere and colour.