Joseph Mallord William Turner

View of Naples from the Hill below San Martino and Castel Sant’Elmo, with Castel Nuovo and Vesuvius


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

Graphite on paper
Support: 113 x 189 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 46 a

Catalogue entry

Turner made a number of panoramic sketches of Naples from certain elevated viewpoints across the city. This drawing depicts a vista looking east across the city towards the semi-circular sweep of the bay. The main focal point is the old port, identifiable from the lighthouse on the L-shaped Mole (or pier), and the adjacent fortress of Castel Nuovo. Dominating the background is the vast bulk of Vesuvius with its smoking cone-shapped crater and the adjacent lesser peak of Monte Somma. Turner’s viewpoint appears to be somewhere on the lower slopes of the Sant’Elmo/San Martino Hill, possibly in front of the monastic complex of Suor Orsola Benincasa (now the headquarters for the university of the same name on present-day Corso Vittorio Emanuele). The foreground includes studies of a number of figures including a pair of nuns in dark habits, and a couple of uniformed soldiers. A series of related views can be found on folios 48 and 49–50 (D16002 and D16004–D16006; Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 46 and 47–48). The composition is also similar to a coloured study in the Naples: Rome C. Studies sketchbook (Tate D16101; Turner Bequest CLXXXVII 13).
The paper is discoloured owing to light exposure dating from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, see folio 48 (D16002; Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 46).

Nicola Moorby
July 2010

Read full Catalogue entry