Joseph Mallord William Turner

View of Lake Fusaro and Cumae, from the Hill of Torregaveta

1819

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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
D15721
Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 82

Catalogue entry

This sketch depicts a view of Lake Fusaro, a stretch of water near Baiae which is separated from the sea by a narrow stretch of coastline. The vista looks north from the hill of Torregaveta with the sea on the left and the lake in the centre. Visible in the distance on the left is Cumae, whilst the two peaks in the centre represent the volcanic peaks of Monte Corvara and Monte Barbaro, near Lake Avernus. Turner made a copy of a similar view after John ‘Warwick’ Smith (1749–1831) in his Italian Guide Book sketchbook (Tate D13969; Turner Bequest CLXXII 20a).1 The composition spills over onto the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 83 verso (D15720; Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 81a). For related sketches see folio 91 verso (D15736; Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 89a).
A number of scholars have followed John Gage’s suggestion that the dark dots covering the left-hand side of this sheet were made by a shower of hot volcanic ash, probably dating from Turner’s ascent of Vesuvius, see folio 46 verso (D15645; Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 44a).2 More recently, however, James Hamilton has argued the marks were made by a spattering of a ‘light inky paint’.3

Nicola Moorby
June 2010

1
Compare also a drawing by Giacinto Gigante, Veduta della spiaggia di Cuma da Torregaveta (Certosa di San Martino, Naples), reproduced at http://www.civita.it/servizio/sala_stampa/il_reale_sito_del_fusaro_tra_cielo_e_mare, accessed June 2010.
2
See for example Gage 1969, p.131; Powell 1984, pp.180 and 492 note 42; Powell 1987, p.79 and Anthony Bailey, Standing in the Sun: A Life of J.M.W. Turner, London 1997, p.246.
3
Hamilton 1998, p.135 note 28.

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