The oil painting View of Venice: The Ducal Palace, Dogana, and Part of San Giorgio was made in 1841 by the English artist Joseph Mallord William Turner. This is a sample of the most frequent subject we can find in Turner’s artistic production: a landscape with boats, water and a sky that takes up half the canvases’ area.
This means he was able to develop and master the techniques for this type of works. At the beginning of his career, he would work only with watercolors. Later he shifted to oil paintings. The pigments were prepared by the artist himself, who would then add binders and apply them to the support. Turner did not look for the more lasting materials, which might imply that the paintings we know today did not look like this when they were freshly done.
Turner is part of the Romanticism, which was an art movement that valued nature. The Romantic paintings usually seek the “Sublime” in nature. This artist’s approach to the natural world usually differs from the realistic Romantic depictions, for Turner tried to express the sensations and emotions that a landscape contained by adding brushstrokes that were very evident.
In this work, even though it is of a late period in Turner’s life, he kept himself faithful to the landscape, seeking to portrait it as realistic as possible. We can only notice a dissolution of the shapes on the right side of the canvas, where it becomes unclear if the brown elements are more boats, constructions or shadows.
In the foreground, we can see several boats and gondolas with people in the rivers of Venice. In the background, there is the city in very clear tones, which almost mix with the ones of the sky. The color palette is very homogenous: shades of blue dominate the composition, with small areas of brown on the boats. The upper border of the canvas is of a very vivid, bright blue. This is the only part of the canvas where Turner applied such a pure and intense hue.
Turner had a complicated life, for his mom became mentally ill after the death of his sister. Because of this, he was sent to live with his uncle. During the time he lived there he started drawing landscapes, usually with buildings and perspective. Only after he entered the Royal Academy, he started focusing on painting marines.
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