Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Sculptural Fragments from the Vatican Museums, Including Six Sketches of Female Figures, from the Column with Reliefs of the Hours, and Detail of the Protesilaus and Laodamia Sarcophagus


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
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 44 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 to bottom:
Cecilia Powell has identified the subject of the top sketch as six studies of three female figures from a column depicting the Hours.1 Turner has therefore drawn the object twice from different angles. The column can be found in the Sala dei Busti (Gallery of Busts).2 The drawing has been annotated ‘809’ 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.
Powell has further identified the bottom sketch as the central figures from the Sarcophagus of Protesilaus and Laodamia.3 Turner’s inscription beneath the drawing reads ‘Laodamia and Protesilao’. This object, from the second compartment of the Galleria dei Candelabri (formerly known as the Galleria delle Miscellanee) can be seen in a drawing by James Hakewill (1778–1843), Rome. Museum of the Capitol. Gallery of Candelabra [sic] 1817 (British School at Rome Library), positioned on the left-hand side.4 It is still in situ today.

Nicola Moorby
November 2009

Powell 1984, p.417; see Walther Amelung, Die Sculpturen des Vaticanischen Museums, Berlin 1903–8, vol.II, ‘3 ... Sala dei Busti’, no.389, pp.574–6, reproduced pl.65.
Giandomenico Spinola, Il Museo Pio-Clementino, vol.II, Vatican City 1999, no.SdB 31, p.83, reproduced figs.7 and 12.
Powell 1984, p.417; see Salomon Reinach Répertoire de Reliefs Grecs et Romains, vol.3, Paris 1912, p.391, no.2, reproduced.
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, no.5M.2, reproduced p.295.

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