Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Sculptural Fragments from the Vatican Museums, Including Vases and Pillars from the Galleria dei Candelabri, and the Sarcophagus of the Rape of the Leucippides

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
D15204
Turner Bequest CLXXX 51

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 includes sketches of objects found in the Museo Pio-Clementino. The studies are numbered from top left to bottom right:
a.
The sketch in the top left-hand corner is a vessel with ram’s head handles, found in the fourth bay of the Galleria dei Candelabri (Gallery of Candelabra, formerly the Galleria delle Miscellanee).1
b.
The central sketch at the top depicts a decorative pillar adorned with trailing vine shoots, which can be found in the first bay of the Galleria dei Candelabri.2
c.
The sketch in the top right-hand corner depicts another decorative pillar. This appears to be an object found in the second bay of the Galleria dei Candelabri adorned with trailing vine shoots, oak and olive branches.3
d.
The sketch on the left-hand side of the second row depicts an ornamental vase or urn, the source of which is currently unidentified.
e.
The sketch in the centre of the page depicts two figures mounted on sea creatures. The source is currently unidentified.
f.
The sketch on the right-hand side of the second row appears to depict part of a table leg.
g.
The subject of the sketch in the bottom left-hand corner is a marble brazier or tripod, with a black urn displayed on top. The object can be found at the top of the Scala Simonetti (Simonetti Staircase), at the entrance to the Galleria dei Candelabri.4
h.
Cecilia Powell has identified the subject of the sketch in the bottom right-hand corner as the decorative reliefs from the front the Sarcophagus of the Rape the Leucippides.5 Turner has drawn the scenes, which depict the rape of the daughters of the King of Sycion by Castor and Pollux, in two rows, so that the right-hand side of the first row relates to the left-hand side of the second. The sarcophagus is found in the sixth bay of the Galleria dei Candelabri.6 The drawing is annotated ‘172’ 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.

Nicola Moorby
November 2009

1
Georg Lippold, Die Skulpturen des Vaticanischen Museums, vol.III, no.2, Berlin 1956, no.1, p.273, reproduced pl.126. See also http://sights.seindal.dk/photo/9139,s1034f.html> accessed November 2009.
2
Lippold 1956, no.38, p.132, reproduced pl.63 and Giandomenico Spinola, Il Museo Pio-Clementino, vol.II, Vatican City 1999, no.GCI 36, p.98, reproduced fig.14.
3
Spinola 1999, GCSII no.42, p.130, reproduced fig.18.
4
Probably Georg Lippold, Die Skulpturen des Vaticanischen Museums, vol.III, no.1, Berlin 1956, no.236, p.46, reproduced pl.26 and Spinola 1999, vol.III, no.SS 12, pp.36–8, reproduced fig.7a.
5
Powell 1984, p.419; see Salomon Reinach Répertoire de Reliefs Grecs et Romains, vol.3, Paris 1912, 379, 1, 3.
6
Ercole Massi, Sculptures and Galleries in the Vatican Palace, New York 2005, reprint of 1873 edition, p.213.

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