Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Sculptural Fragments from the Vatican Museums, Including Two Sarcophagi with Cupids

1819

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

Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 161 x 101 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D15198
Turner Bequest CLXXX 48

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:
a.
The sketch at the top depicts the lid of a sarcophagus decorated with sculptural reliefs of cupids mounted on horses.1 The drawing is annotated with the number ‘309’.
b.
The sketch in the top right-hand corner represents a decorative sculptural fragment in the form of a goat’s head.2
c.
The sketch second from top left depicts the front of the same sarcophagus in (a.), decorated with reliefs of cupids in chariots.3 The drawing is annotated with the number ‘310’.
d.
The second sketch from the bottom is another sarcophagus, also decorated with reliefs of cupids in chariots.4 The drawing is annotated with the number ‘1295’
e.
The sketch at the bottom depicts the lid of the same sarcophagus in (d).5 The drawing is annotated with the number ‘1294’.
Turner’s annotations presumably relate to exhibit numbers displayed on the individual works. However, they do not appear to correspond to any known lists published within contemporary guide books or catalogues of the Vatican collections.

Nicola Moorby
November 2009

1
Powell 1984, p.418; Salomon Reinach Répertoire de Reliefs Grecs et Romains, vol.3, Paris 1912, p.368, no.1, reproduced.
2
For example those illustrated on the altars in Reinach 1912, p.411, nos.1 and 2, reproduced.
3
Powell 1984, p.418; Reinach 1912, p.368, no.1, reproduced.
4
Powell 1984, p.418; Reinach 1912, p.368, no.2, reproduced.
5
Ibid.

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