Joseph Mallord William Turner

Church near the Via Posillipo, with a Distant View of Vesuvius


Not on display

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 CLXXXVI 81 a

Catalogue entry

In 1812, the King of Naples, Joachim Murat, ordered the construction of a new road designed to make Posillipo accessible from Naples. The result was the long and winding thoroughfare of Via Posillipo which took twelve years to build and opened up the picturesque landscape of this part of the Gulf of Naples for extensive urban development. The road stretches the length of the coast from Mergellina at the eastern foot of the Posillipo Hill, to the Capo di Posillipo in the west, and for much of this distance runs parallel with the shoreline. This sketch is one of a number of views of the Posillipo coast which includes sections of the new road, visible here in the left-hand foreground as a viaduct bridging the steep cliffs above the sea. The precise location remains unidentified but it appears to be a point near a small town with a church. The silhouette of Vesuvius and Monte Somma is visible in the far distance. For further views from the Via Posillipo see folios 83 verso–87 (D16070–D16077; Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 81a–85), as well as the Gandolfo to Naples sketchbook (Tate D15669; Turner Bequest 56a) and the Naples: Rome C. Studies sketchbook (Tate D16094–6; Turner Bequest CLXXXVII 7–9).
Turner has made a written note in the bottom left-hand corner recording some observations of daily life. Jack Lindsay has cited is as evidence of the artist’s interest in scenes of work and play, particularly games of wind and water such as kites.1

Nicola Moorby
August 2010

Lindsay 1966, p.17.

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