Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Sculptural Fragments and Reliefs from the Vatican Museums, Including an Ash Urn and the Funerary Altar of C. Clodius Apollinaris and C. Clodius Primitivus


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 101 x 161 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXX 77

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 from the Museo Pio-Clementino. The studies are numbered from top left to bottom right:
Cecilia Powell has identified the sketch in the top left-hand corner as an ash urn,1 decorated with sculptural reliefs of erotes, garlands and masks. Today the object can be found in the Gabinetto dell’Hermes in the Cortile Ottagono (also known as the Cortile Ottagonale, formerly the Cortile del Belvedere) of the Museo Pio-Clementino.2 The drawing is annotated ‘254’ which presumably relates to an exhibit number displayed on the work. However, it does not appear to correspond to any known lists published within contemporary guide books or catalogues of the Vatican collections.
The sketch in the bottom left-hand corner represents the top of the funerary altar depicted in (c).
Powell has identified the subject of the sketch on the right-hand side of the page as the funerary altar of C. Clodius Apollinaris and C. Clodius Primitivus.3 Turner has transcribed the Latin text from the top and centre of the object ‘C. Clodivs APOLLINARIS | VA.VM. VI D VIII’ and ‘DIS MANIBUS’ and ‘CCLODIVS CF | PRIMITVVS VIXITANN | XIDIEBVS XXV | C CLODIUS SECVNDUS | ET CLODIA PRIMAF’. Today the altar can be found in the South Portico of the Cortile Ottagono (also known as the Cortile Ottagonale, formerly the Cortile del Belvedere) in the Museo Pio-Clementino.4

Nicola Moorby
December 2009

Powell 1984, p.421; see Walther Amelung, Die Sculpturen des Vaticanischen Museums, Berlin 1903–8, vol.II, ‘2 Belvedere’, no.86, pp.232–3, reproduced pl.22.
Giandomenico Spinola, Il Museo Pio-Clementino, vol.I, Vatican City 1996, no.HER 4 and 5, p.88.
Powell 1984, p.421; see Amelung 1908, vol.II, no.80, pp.216–7, reproduced pl.21.
Spinola 1996, vol.I, no. PS 4 and 5, p.54.

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like