Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Study of ?the Casino di Raffaello, Rome


View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and graphite on paper
Support: 311 x 192 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 142

Catalogue entry

The Italianate subject matter of this study has previously led scholars to associate it with Turner's series of vignette illustrations for Rogers’s Italy (1830). However, its stylistic and thematic similarity with other vignette sketches of Continental landscapes and the fact that the support is a type of board suggests a much later date. In particular the work resembles another work, (see Tate D27652; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 135). Both studies were painted on off-white board and may have been cut or torn from the same sheet, suggesting that they were produced at around the same time. In light of a watermark present on the latter, both studies are tentatively dated to circa 1842.
The subject, or subjects, of this work remain uncertain. The inscription located in the bottom left-hand corner, has led Jan Piggott to suggest that the building may be the Villa Madama. Designed by Raphael to rival the villas of antiquity, the Villa Madama on the Janiculum hill in Rome, is one of the most famous and widely imitated villas and terraced gardens of the High Renaissance. Turner made one identified drawing of the Villa Madama during his visit to Italy in 1819 but it does not bear any resemblance to this study (see Tate D16182; Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII 13a). An alternative explanation is that it depicts the Casino di Raffaello, a small summerhouse which once stood in the gardens of the Villa Borghese but which was destroyed during the siege of Rome in 1849. Turner made a series of sketches of the building during his first Italian tour of 1819, see St Peter’s sketchbook (Tate D16233; Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII 43a) and it is also the probable subject of the Claudian landscape painting visible in the foreground of Rome from the Vatican exhibited 1820 (Tate, N00503).1 This picture is inscribed along its lower edge, ‘Casa di Raffaello’.
Gage 1969, p.93; Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, no.228.
Technical notes:
This drawing was exhibited as part of the third loan collection, selected by Ralph Nicholson Wornum and exhibited in various venues outside of London at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries.1 Unfortunately, like many of works in the loan collection tours, the watercolour has suffered from overexposure and is now badly faded.
Warrell 1991, p.46.

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

Revised by Nicola Moorby
October 2008

Read full Catalogue entry