Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Sculptural Fragments and Reliefs from the Vatican Museums, Including the Ash-Urn of T. Flavius Eucharistus, and the Statue Base of Attius Insteius Tertullus


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

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 161 x 101 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXX 9

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 various objects, most or all of which were probably found in the Galleria Lapidaria (Lapidary Gallery) of the Museo Chiaramonti. The studies are numbered from top left to bottom right:
Cecilia Powell has identified this sketch as a fragment of the cinerarium, or ash urn, of T. Flavius Eucharistus,1 which is today found in the Cortile del Belvedere.2 Turner has transcribed the Latin inscription as ‘DM | T FLAVIO. EV CII | ARISTO FECIT | FLAVIA. SABINA | FILIA. RENTISSA | MA. PATRNI DVL | [?SESSINO]’. The first part translates as ‘D[is] M[anibus]’, ‘To the spirits of the departed’, and is a common phrase found on Roman funerary monuments.
This appears to be a sketch of another cinerarium decorated with sculptural reliefs, although the object is currently unidentified.
Cecilia Powell has identified the remaining sketches as various elements from the base of the statue of Attius Isteius Tertullus,3 found in the Galleria Lapidaria (Lapidary Gallery) of the Museo Chiaramonti.4 A general view of the sculpture can be found on folio 9 verso (D15120; Turner Bequest CLXXX 8a). The sketches comprise:
Part of the relief panel and decorative border at the top of the base.
A fragment of two figures in relief from the left-hand side of the base.
Part of the ornamental border framing the upper corner of the base.
A fragment of figures in relief from the right-hand side of the base.5
Part of the ornamental border at the bottom of the base including an egg and dart style and decorative foliage pattern.

Nicola Moorby
November 2009

Powell 1984, p.412.
See Walther Amelung, Die Sculpturen des Vaticanischen Museums, Berlin 1903–8, vol.II, ‘Belvedere II’, no.99a, pp.280–1, reproduced pl.25.
Powell 1984, p.412.
See Walther Amelung, Die Sculpturen des Vaticanischen Museums, Berlin 1903–8, vol.I, ‘2. Galleria Lapidaria Seite 161–308’, no.73, pp.216–8, reproduced pl.25 (left).
See ibid., reproduced pl.25 (right).

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like