Ruskin's description of Turner's late Venetian watercolours, from Modern Painters   5

 

 

 

Venice by moonlight, 1840, (TB CCCXV 10)    

MP V, IX XI
§31.....
       How strangely significative, thus understood, those last Venetian dreams of his become, themselves so beautiful and so frail; wrecks of all that they were once—twilights of twilight!

 

 

§ 32. Vain beauty; yet not all in vain. Unlike in birth, how like in their labour, and their power over the future, these masters of England and Venice—Turner and Giorgione. But ten years ago, I saw the last traces of   the greatest works of Giorgione yet glowing1 like a

 scarlet cloud, on the Fondaco de’ Tedeschi.* And though that scarlet cloud (sanguigna e fiammeggiante, per cui le pitture cominciarono

con dolce violenza a rapire il cuore delle genti) may, indeed, melt away into paleness of night, and Venice herself waste from her

islands as a wreath of wind-driven foam fades from their weedy beach;—that which she won of faithful light and truth shall never pass

away. Deiphobe of the sea,—the Sun God measures her immortality to her by its sand. Flushed, above the Avernus of the Adrian lake,

her spirit is still seen holding the golden bough; from the lips of the Sea Sibyl men shall learn for ages yet to come what is most noble and most fair; and, far away, as the whisper in the coils of the shell, withdrawn through the deep hearts of nations, shall sound for ever the enchanted voice of Venice.

 

    (Show the Golden Bough ? )