Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Sculptural Fragments from the Vatican Museums, Including a Relief Depicting Dionysus, Ariadne and Silenus, and Two Sketches of a Statue of a Woman Carrying Water


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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 45 a

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 objects found in 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 a relief fragment with Dionysus, Ariadne and Silenus.1 The object can be found in the Galleria delle Statue (Gallery of Statues, formerly also known as the Gallery of Cleopatra).2 Turner has annotated the drawing with the number ‘669’.
Powell has identified the second sketch from top left as a relief fragment with a temple, also from the Galleria delle Statue.3 The object is now believed to depict the insignia of the ‘Sabina Materno’, possibly with the Temple of Castori in the Circo Flaminio.4 Turner has transcribed the accompanying inscriptions as ‘N | AE | DILOG’ and ‘H | D | MAT | NTV’. Furthermore, either this or the adjacent sketch (see c.) is labelled ‘[?Liber T...]’ and ‘710’.
Powell has suggested that the two sketches top and bottom right are variant views of a statue of a woman carrying water, sometimes known as the ‘Danaid’, from the Galleria delle Statue.5 This sculpture can be seen in two drawings by James Hakewill (1778–1843), Rome. Saloon of Cleopatra of the Vatican, positioned on the right-hand side and Antiques of the Vatican 1817 (both British School at Rome Library).6 However, Turner’s drawing does not include the ornamental pillar supporting the bowl of water underneath, which suggests that it may in fact depict a different sculpture, partially visible in another Hakewill drawing, Rome. Museum of the Captiol. Gallery of the Candelabra.7 Despite the title, the view actually represents the second bay of the Galleria dei Candelabri in the Vatican Museums (formerly known as the Galleria delle Miscellanee), and the statue of a woman carrying water can be seen in the middle distance on the far right-hand side.
At the bottom of the page there is also a very slight inverted sketch of an unidentified landscape.

Nicola Moorby
November 2009

Powell 1984, p.418; see Walther Amelung, Die Sculpturen des Vaticanischen Museums, Berlin 1903–8, vol.II, ‘3. Galleria delle Statue’, no.261a, pp.440–2, reproduced pl.52.
Giandomenico Spinola, Il Museo Pio-Clementino, vol.II, Vatican City 1999, no.GS 68, p.53, reproduced fig.9.
Powell 1984, p.418; see Amelung 1908, vol.II, ‘4. Galleria delle Statue II.’, no.401a, pp.611–2, reproduced pl.53.
Spinola 1999, vo.II, no.GS 30, pp.28–31, reproduced fig.4.
See Amelung 1908, vol.II, no.405, reproduced pl.58 and Spinola 1999, vol.II, no.GS 24, pp.24–5, reproduced fig.3.
See Tony Cubberley and Luke Herrmann, Twilight of the Grand Tour: A Catalogue of the drawings by James Hakewill in the British School at Rome Library, Rome 1992, nos.5M.3 and 5M.26, reproduced pp.296 and 324.
Ibid., no.5M.2, reproduced p.295.

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