Joseph Mallord William Turner

Bay of Naples from Posillipo, with the Palazzo Donn’Anna


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 255 × 403 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXVII 7

Catalogue entry

To the west of Naples lies the steep coastline of Posillipo, an area of outstanding natural beauty which since Roman times had been a popular residential district and resort. This sketch depicts a sweeping view of the city as seen from Posillipo. On the hill in the centre of the composition are Castel Sant’Elmo and the semi-circular bay curves round to the Castel dell’Ovo on the far right-hand side with the lower slopes of Vesuvius beyond. Turner’s location appears to be just west of the Palazzo Donn’Anna (also historically known as Queen Joanna’s palace), a famous seventeenth-century ruin which can be seen in central foreground. His viewpoint is the Via Posillipo, a new road built during the early nineteenth century which followed the line of the steep tufa cliffs rising above the shore. Some of the arches supporting a section of the road can be seen on the left-hand edge of the composition. A similar prospect looking north-east towards the city can be found on another sheet within this sketchbook (Tate D16107; Turner Bequest CLXXXVII 19), as well as in the Naples, Paestum, Rome sketchbook (Tate D15920; Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 8).

Nicola Moorby
April 2010

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