Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Sculptural Fragments and Reliefs from the Vatican Museums, Including a Sarcophagus of a Girl

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: 101 x 161 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D15129
Turner Bequest CLXXX 13

Catalogue entry

During his 1819 stay in Rome, one of Turner’s most extensive sketching campaigns was the large number of pencil studies made from the sculpture collections of the Vatican Museums (for a general discussion, see the introduction to the sketchbook). This page contains sketches of three objects, one or all of which were probably in the Museo Chiaramonti. The studies are numbered from top left to bottom right:
a.
Cecilia Powell has identified the top sketch as the sarcophagus of a girl,1 in the Galleria Lapidaria (Lapidary Gallery) of the Museo Chiaramonti.2 The object is decorated with sculptural reliefs of nymphs, amorini, and fish, as well as two centaurs bearing a portrait shield.
b.
The subject of the sketch in the bottom left-hand corner is currently unidentified but appears to depict the outline of a grave altar or other funerary monument.
c.
The sketch at the bottom of the page depicts a fragment of a flat piece of marble bearing the design of a mythical beast, part horse and part sea creature, from the collections of the Museo Chiaramonti.3

Nicola Moorby
November 2009

1
Powell 1984, p.413.
2
See Walther Amelung, Die Sculpturen des Vaticanischen Museums, Berlin 1903–8, vol.I, ‘2. Galleria Lapidaria’, no.192a, pp.299–300, reproduced pl.29.
3
See Amelung 1903–8, vol.I, ‘3. Museo Chiaramonti I’, p.417, as ‘d) (under No. 167)’, reproduced in pl.43, bottom left.

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