Joseph Mallord William Turner

Castel Sant’Angelo and St Peter’s, Rome, from the Porto di Ripetta; and the Monument to Paul III by Guglielmo della Porta in St Peter’s

1819

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 114 x 189 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D16279
Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII 67 a

Catalogue entry

The majority of this sheet contains a view of St Peter’s and the Castel Sant’Angelo from the Porto di Ripetta.1 The view is inverted on the page and continues on the opposite sketchbook sheet, see folio 69 (D16280; Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII 68).
The second sketch on the page lies along the foredge of the book and depicts two marble figures that decorate the base of the monument to Pope Paul III in the apse of the basilica of St Peter’s. Executed by Guglielmo della Porta (1533–1602) after designs by Michelangelo, the half-reclining statues represent allegorical representations of Justice (left) and Prudence (right) and are said to be likenesses of the Pope’s mother and his sister, Giulia. Turner has also noted down the Latin inscription which can be found on the monument beneath a bronze effigy of Paul III and which refers to his given name, Alessandro Farnese. For a further sketch see folio 86 (D16313; Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII 85). Cecilia Powell has argued that Turner’s interest may be have been piqued by the charge of indecency levelled at these nude figures by the Pope, which ultimately led to whitened bronze drapery being added to Justice by Bernini.2 Another sculpture in St Peter’s, the Monument to the Last of the Stuarts by Antonio Canova, had been at the centre of a similar, more recent conflict, see folio 84 (D16309; Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII 83).

Nicola Moorby
January 2009

1
Compare Gaspar van Wittel (Vanvitelli), River Tiber from Monte Sant’Angelo, 1685 (Galleria Palatina, Florence), reproduced in colour in Marco Bussagli (ed.), Rome: Art and Architecture, Cologne 1999, pp.[616–7].
2
Powell 1984, pp.148 and 484 note 89 and Powell 1987, p.61.

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