Joseph Mallord William Turner

Part of a View of Lake Agnano and the Hill of Camaldoli; and Sketches of Lake Avernus with Monte Corvara

1819

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 122 x 197 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D15707
Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 75

Catalogue entry

The sketch in the top right-hand corner of the page represents a view Lake Agnano, a former crater lake in the Campi Flegrei (Phlegraean or Burning Fields) which was drained in 1870. The lake was famously the site of the Grotto del Cane (Dog’s Grotto), so-called because dogs were traditionally used to demonstrate the effect of the poisonous fumes which arose from the cave. The vista depicts the view looking north-west across the lake towards the hill of Camaldoli on the left and Vesuvius on the right. The composition continues on the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 76 verso (D15706; Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 74a). For further related views see folios 75–75 verso and 77 (D15703–D15704 and D15707; Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 73–73a and 75).
The remaining two views on the lower part of the page meanwhile appear to depict Lake Avernus and the ruins of the so-called Temple of Apollo, with Monte Corvara beyond. The dark cave opening on the left-hand side of the larger study represents the so-called Grotta della Sibilla (Grotto or Cave of the Cumaean Sibyl) on the north-west banks of the lake.1 For related views see folio 77 verso (D15708; Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 75a).

Nicola Moorby
June 2010

1
Compare a sketch by James Barry (1741–1806), Lake Avernus circa 1769 (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven), reproduced in William L. Pressly, ‘On Classic Ground: James Barry’s “Memorials” of the Italian Landscape’, in Record of the Art Museum, Princeton University, vol.54, no.2, 1995, p.13, fig.1.

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