Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Gulf of Naples, Seen from Vesuvius

1819

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 122 x 197 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D15639
Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 41 a

Catalogue entry

As Cecilia Powell first identified, Turner made a series of sketches of Naples and the surrounding landscape as seen from the ascent to the summit of Vesuvius, see folio 46 verso (D15645; Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 44a).1 This rough pencil study is one of a number of similar on-the-spot views to depict the semi-circular sweep of the Bay and Gulf of Naples looking west/south-west from the slopes of the volcano.2 The small headland of Castel dell’Ovo juts into the sea on the right-hand side of the curving bay, whilst in the distance on the left is the coastline of Posillipo and the island of Ischia. The low position of the sun in the west indicates that Turner sketch was made near the end of the day. Part of the composition spills over onto the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 44 (D15640; Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 42).

Nicola Moorby
May 2010

1
Powell 1984, p.424.
2
For a similar view compare John ‘Warwick’ Smith (1749–1831), City of Naples from Vesuvius 1778–9 (Tate, T08509).

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