by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851). Exhibited 1840. Oil on canvas, 686 x 914 mm. Courtesy of Tate Britain. (Accession no. N00527 Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856.) Click on image to enlarge it.
Commentary from Tate Britain Online
One of the most famous landmarks in Venice, the Bridge of Sighs connects the Doge’s Palace on the left with the prisons of the Palazzo dei Prigioni to the right. Exhibited in 1840 with the following lines based on Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto iv, verse I:
‘I stood upon a bridge, a palace
A prison on each hand.’—Byron
In Byron's original text the lines read,
I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs;
A palace and a prison on each hand.
The lines show that Turner saw even the beauties of Venice as a sham, concealing the grim realities on which her departed glories had depended. Most of the critics of the 1840 R.A. exhibition were so shattered by Turner's other contributions that they failed to mention the two Venetian scenes, this picture and the Venice from the Canale della Giudecca, Chiesa di S Maria della Salute, &c (No. 384). Even the critic of the Spectator, who did notice them on 16 May, could not forbear to include them in his general condemnation of ‘mere freaks of chromomania’, the Venetian pictures being included with their ‘sundry patches of white and nankeen, with a bundle of gayer colours... intended to represent buildings and vessels’.
- Bridge of Sighs, Ducal Palace and Custom-House, Venice: Canaletti Painting
- Venice, the Piazzetta with the Ceremony of the Doge Marrying the Sea
- Venice Quay, Ducal Palace
- St Benedetto, Looking towards Fusina
- Venice — Maria della Salute
- The Dogano, San Giorgio, Citella, from the Steps of the Europa
- Venice with the Salute
- Venice, from the Porch of Madonna della Salute
Butlin, Martin, and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner. revised ed.. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1984.
Last modified 16 May 2016