- Museum number
Florence, from San Miniato; the city viewed from the roof of a house, in the foreground a group of figures, fruit trees at left, and cypresses beyond them, two bridges in the mid-distance. c.1828
Watercolour, touched with bodycolour
- Production date
- 1828 (circa)
Height: 286 millimetres
Width: 418 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Ref: C. Reginald Grundy, 'The Beecham Collection III Works by Turner', Connoisseur, XXXVIII, April 1914, p. 233, repr. p. 233.
Turner first made studies of this view, from a spot actually half a mile north of San Miniato, during his momentous tour of Italy in 1819, when he spent Christmas in Florence before setting out for home again in January.¹ He did not return to Florence until 1828, but the composition of this view is so close to three others of c. 1826-8 that it must have been produced before his second visit to the city. These watercolours were part of another of Charles Heath's many publishing schemes, 'Picturesque Views in Italy', which never reached fruition. One of the other versions of this watercolour did actually appear as a small engraving in 1827 in yet another of Heath's publishing ventures, but this time a very successful one with which Turner was to be involved for the next ten years.
Small 'pocket-books' or 'annuals', a cross between a diary and a literary selection, had been published for the Christmas market since the eighteenth century. With the invention of steel engraving in the 1820s, enabling much larger runs to be taken from plates without loss of detail or quality, the annuals began to include more illustrations, and from this time the demand for them increased dramatically. Charles Heath launched his new annual, 'The Keepsake', in 1827, including engravings after watercolours by Turner; priced at a guinea each, he sold 15,000 copies.² Rather than specially producing small watercolours for these octavo volumes, Heath seems to have used larger finished works Turner had to hand, and this may be one of the reasons why this publication project was so successful - the anguish of meeting publishers' deadlines had caused many of Turner's publishing projects to flounder.
John Ruskin was familiar with the original watercolour of Florence that was engraved for the 'Keepsake' (W 727), which was very similar to the present work. Although he considered it "a glorious drawing, as far as regards the passage with the bridge and sunlight on the Arno", he complained that "the vines and melons of the foreground are disorderly, and its cypresses conventional; in fact, I recollect no instance of Turner's drawing a cypress except in general terms".³ Nevertheless, the figures are so reminiscent of a fête champêtre and the character of the city is captured so faithfully that two of Turner's most assiduous patrons, including Munro of Novar who owned the present work, were to commission copies.⁴
1. Powell 1987, pp. 93-4.
2. Herrmann, pp. 164-5.
3. Modern Painters, I, p. 1 30.
4. See Warrell 1991, pp. 66-7.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1899, Guildhall, no.148
1899, Birmingham, no. 47
1901, Glasgow, no.800
1909, Agnew's, no.166
1919 Mar-Apr, London, Agnew's, Artists of the Early English School, no.29
1927, Agnew's, no.20
1951, Agnew's, no.83
1959, 1960, no.20
1966 Feb, BM, Turner Lloyd Bequest, no.20
1969 Feb, BM, Turner Lloyd Bequest, no.20
1975 BM, Turner in the BM, no.145
1998 May-Sept., BM, J.M.W.Turner: Lloyd Bequest, no.40
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- UNDER THE TERMS OF THE BEQUEST, NONE OF THE PRINTS OR DRAWINGS BEQUEATHED BY R. W. LLOYD MAY BE LENT OUTSIDE THE BRITISH MUSEUM (Registration Numbers 1958,0712.318 to 3149).
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number