Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Vision of St Bruno, after Pier Francesco Mola

1802

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite and chalk on paper
Dimensions
Support: 215 x 138 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D04394
Turner Bequest LXXIII 2

Catalogue entry

Turner turned the sketchbook upright to make this drawing. Finberg’s putative title for it survived until the artist and picture in the Louvre were identified in the 1993 Paris exhibition catalogue.1 On his return from the Alps in 1802, Turner stayed in Paris in the first weeks of October and visited the Louvre, where the collections were greatly increased in number by Napoleon’s trophies of conquest. He made many drawings after the Old Masters and recorded notes and opinions in his Studies in the Louvre sketchbook (Tate D04275–D04390; Turner Bequest LXXII); see Introduction to that sketchbook for a full account. This, the only such drawing in the present sketchbook, was made after Mola’s picture, a reduced version of a work painted 1663–6 for Prince Agostino Chigi.
Recently exhibited at Tate Britain,2 the colouristic, compositional and emotional attractions of The Vision of St Bruno for Turner became evident again. In later lecture notes, he praised its ‘beautiful conceptions of pastoral quietude’3 but must also have admired its rich and warm tones. As has been observed, his drawing shows him to have been particularly struck by the roles Mola assigned to the two trees on the left, which form a cross and bridge earth and heaven.4
As Turner bought the sketchbook in Paris during his first visit to the city at the end of July, the drawing was most probably made then, and represents his first use of the book. Notes on pictures by Titian and Correggio in the Small Calais Pier sketchbook (Tate D04262, D04264; Turner Bequest LXXI 62a, 63a), otherwise used only around Calais on his arrival in France and on his way to Paris, support an early visit to the Louvre. Then or during his longer stay in the city on the way back Turner made three drawings after other works by Mola in the Studies in the Louvre sketchbook; St John the Baptist Preaching (D04293; folio 18), Erminia and Valfrino Tending the Wounded Tancred (D04387; folio 79) and Erminia Watching her Flock, Carving Tancred’s Name on a Tree (D04379; folio 80).
1
Cuzin, Dupuy and others 1993, p.82.
2
Turner and the Masters, Tate Britain, London, September 2009–January 2010 (38 reproduced).
3
Jerrold Ziff, ‘“Backgrounds: Introduction of Architecture and Landscape”: A Lecture by J.M.W. Turner’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, vol.26, 1963, pp.141.
4
Philippa Simpson and Martin Myrone in Solkin 2009, p.140.

David Blayney Brown
October 2009

Read full Catalogue entry

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