Joseph Mallord William Turner

Architectural Details from San Giovanni in Fonte, San Giovanni in Laterano and the Lateran Palace, Rome


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 113 × 189 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXII 53 a

Catalogue entry

Turner’s inscription on this page, ‘St Gio di Fonte’, refers to the Lateran baptistery, also known as San Giovanni in Fonte, an octagonal building which stands near the northern façade of the Cathedral of San Giovanni in Laterano, the official church of Rome and the seat of the Pope. The sketches are a confusing composite of internal and external features from this and surrounding buildings. On the left-hand side of the page are detailed studies of a Corinthian capital with a decorated architrave and another capital and elaborate base. The inscription ‘Porp’ between the latter indicates that these drawings record sections of the eight porphyry columns inside the building which surround the font and support a marble octagonal architrave above.
The sketches in the top and right-hand side of the page meanwhile record exterior elements seen from the square in front of the Baptistery. On the left can be seen part of the rectangular lantern and top row of windows belonging to the Lateran Palace, with the alternating angular and curved pediments sketchily depicted. To the far right is one of the Romanesque towers from the north façade of San Giovanni in Laterano.

Nicola Moorby
May 2008

Read full Catalogue entry

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