Joseph Mallord William Turner

Label of ‘Rome C. Studies’ sketchbook


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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 378 x 233 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Catalogue entry

The given title of this sketchbook, the Rome: C. Studies sketchbook, is derived from Turner’s own handwritten label. The ‘C’ in this name, as well as the Naples: Rome C. Studies and Small Roman C. Studies sketchbooks, has been frequently interpreted in the past as meaning ‘Colour’, referring to the use of watercolour to develop some of the studies within. Alternatively, it may stand for ‘Chiarascuro’, reflecting the numerous tonal drawings employing pencil and white highlights over a washed grey background.1 However, Cecilia Powell has also plausibly suggested that the ‘C’ might be interpreted as ‘Composition’, since all of the relevant books contain carefully structured subjects which could be intended for further development, or which relate to later finished watercolours and oils.2

Nicola Moorby
October 2009

See Andrew Wilton’s entry in J.M.W. Turner, à l’occasion du cinquantième anniversaire du British Council, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, October 1983–January 1984, pp.218–20.
Cecilia Powell, Turner in the South: Rome, Naples, Florence, New Haven and London 1987, p.44.

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