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

Joseph Mallord William Turner Study of a Grave Altar in the Vatican Museums; also a ?Distant View of St Peter's, Rome 1819

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 24 Recto:
Study of a Grave Altar in the Vatican Museums; also a ?Distant View of St Peter’s, Rome 1819
D15149
Turner Bequest CLXXX 23
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 ‘23’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CLXXX 23’ 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 a sketch of an unidentified grave altar, probably found in the Galleria Lapidaria (Lapidary Gallery) of the Museo Chiaramonti. Turner has transcribed the Latin inscription from the monument as ‘DIS MANIBUS | VIX.XXX | AHERENNVIEIVS | CEYGO | BENEMERENTI . FECIT’. The first line translates as ‘To the spirits of the departed’, and is a common phrase on Roman funerary monuments.
There is also a separate rough sketch inverted at the bottom of the page which appears to depict a view of a building through arched windows. Finberg described it as a distant view of St Peter’s.

Nicola Moorby
November 2009

How to cite

Nicola Moorby, ‘Study of a Grave Altar in the Vatican Museums; also a ?Distant View of St Peter’s, Rome 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-study-of-a-grave-altar-in-the-vatican-museums-also-a-distant-r1139561, accessed 27 March 2015.