One of the most significant series of studies dating from Turner’s 1819 trip to Rome was the sequence of on-the-spot pencil sketches relating to the Loggia of Raphael, a colonnaded porch on the second floor of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, decorated by Raphael (1483–1520) and his studio. Turner made a closely detailed visual record of the loggia, particularly concentrating on the southern end of the interior and the decoration of the first three bays and window arches, see folios 13 verso–21 (D14955–D14965). He also made several studies related to the view from the windows of the sixteenth-century loggia looking towards St Peter’s Square. From these drawings evolved the artist’s first finished oil painting following his Italian tour, the vast canvas Rome from the Vatican. Raffaelle Accompanied by La Fornarina, Preparing his Pictures for the Decoration of the Loggia exhibited 1820 (Tate, N00503).1
The sketches on this page represent architectural elements of the Apostolic Palace, looking from the Loggia of Raphael towards the wing on the opposite side of the Cortile San Damaso. In Rome from the Vatican, this is the building seen through the window arch on the left-hand side of the picture. At the top of the page Turner has depicted the façade of the palace with its top three stories of arcades. The study incorporates a detailed record of a single bay of one of the arcades with the balustrade above, and a glimpse of the decorations within the interior of the upper two stories, including the ‘maps’ on the walls of the top floor corridor. Meanwhile, at the bottom of the page is a sketch of the roofline of the same wing of the palace. Further sketches of the exterior of this building can be found on folio 25 (D14970).
In the bottom right-hand corner, Turner has transcribed a Latin inscription: ‘SIXTUS PONT MAX | ÆDES LOCO APERTO AC | SALVBRI – | IGRATO VRBIS ASPECTI | INSIGNES | PONTIFICVM COMMODAT | ATI FELICT – | AD MDXC PONTIF VI’.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, no.228.