About this artwork

A crack of lightning streaks the sky above the Piazzetta, the historic heart of government in Venice, and bystanders run for cover. The city of canals captured Turner’s imagination more than any other place. This watercolour dates from his third and final visit in August 1840. Beyond the statue of the winged lion of St Mark, the Doge’s Palace glows amber in the uncanny light. A section of St Mark’s Basilica shines ghostly white. Turner created the white highlights by scratching the paper surface. He is said to have used ‘his eagle-claw of a thumb-nail’ for this purpose.

Updated December 2022

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Joseph Mallord William Turner

Joseph Mallord William Turner