Joseph Mallord William Turner

St Peter’s, Rome from Bernini’s Colonnade


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

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 114 x 189 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII 83 a

Catalogue entry

Turner’s viewpoint for this sketch is the end of the northern (right) arm of the two colonnades built by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598–1680) to frame the elliptical piazza in front of the Basilica of St Peter’s. The artist is standing within the colonnade looking out so that his view is partially obscured by the innermost row of Tuscan columns. In the background beyond he has outlined St Peter’s and drawn with more detail the adjacent façade of the Vatican loggia and the granite fountain by Carlo Maderno. A more complex composition from a different viewpoint can also be found in the Rome Colour Studies sketchbook (see Tate D16330; Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 4).

Nicola Moorby
January 2009

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