Turner and Venice

Peter Furtado previews a new exhibition devoted to J.M.W. Turner’s visits to the historic city in the first half of the 19th century.

A major exhibition, the first ever to be devoted to J.M.W. Turner’s seminal trips to Venice, will open at Tate Britain in early October. The exhibition, sponsored by Barclays plc, spans twenty years between Turner’s first visit to the city in 1819 and his last in 1840. It will bring together around fifty-five oil paintings, and over 100 watercolours as well as prints, maps and Turner’s Venice sketchbooks.

Even among Venice’s many distinguished artistic visitors, Turner remains one of the few to find a true echo of his own sensibility in the unique qualities of this floating city. His images of Venice were quickly recognised by their first viewers as some of his most magical, luminous works. His vision remains as vital today, expressing as it does the often inchoate and funereal qualities of the Venetian experience.

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