J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

Joseph Mallord William Turner Studies of Sculptural Fragments from the Vatican Museums, Including a Sarcophagus with a Relief Depicting a Battle between Greeks and Centaurs, and a Herm of Socrates 1819

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 41 Recto:
Studies of Sculptural Fragments from the Vatican Museums, Including a Sarcophagus with a Relief Depicting a Battle between Greeks and Centaurs, and a Herm of Socrates 1819
D15182
Turner Bequest CLXXX 40
Pencil on white wove paper, 161 x 101 mm
Inscribed by the artist in pencil (see main catalogue entry)
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘40’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CLXXX 40’ bottom right
 
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
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 contains sketches of objects found in the Museo Pio-Clementino. The studies are numbered from top left to bottom right:
a.
Cecilia Powell has identified the subject of the sketch at the top of the page as a sarcophagus with a relief depicting a battle between Greek and Centaurs.1 Turner has continued the study of the line of the frieze so that the design links from the top right-hand edge to the left-hand edge on the second row (for other related sketches see below). The sarcophagus can be found in the Sala delle Muse (Gallery of the Muses).2
b.
The sketch on the right-hand side of the second row depicts the decorative relief from the top of the same sarcophagus (see above).3
c.
The sketches of the third row and the bottom left-hand corner depict other scenes from the same sarcophagus, depicting a battle between Greeks and Centaurs (see above).4
d.
The sketch at the bottom of the page depicts a bust or herm of Socrates,5 also found within the Sala delle Muse.6 Turner has transcribed the accompanying inscription as ‘¿WKPATHC’, which, as Powell has noted, approximates to the Greek name of the famous philosopher.

Nicola Moorby
November 2009

1
Powell 1984, p.417. Powell refers to Salomon Reinach Répertoire de Reliefs Grecs et Romains, vol.3, Paris 1912, 356, 1–3.
2
Georg Lippold, Die Skulpturen des Vaticanischen Museums, vol.III, no.1, Berlin 1956, no.513, reproduced pl.29.
3
Ibid.
4
Ibid., no.501, reproduced pl.29.
5
Powell 1984, p.417.
6
Lippold 1956, no.514, reproduced pl.20.

How to cite

Nicola Moorby, ‘Studies of Sculptural Fragments from the Vatican Museums, Including a Sarcophagus with a Relief Depicting a Battle between Greeks and Centaurs, and a Herm of Socrates 1819 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, November 2009, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-studies-of-sculptural-fragments-from-the-vatican-museums-r1139594, accessed 26 December 2014.