Joseph Mallord William Turner

Details and Inscriptions from the Santuario della Santa Casa and the Piazza della Madonna, Loreto


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 110 × 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXVII 13 a

Catalogue entry

The first significant place of interest on the route to Rome from Ancona was Loreto, a famous site of Catholic pilgrimage. Turner made a large number of sketches in and around the city, see folio 10 (D14671). This page contains details and inscriptions from the historical heart of the city, the fifteenth-century basilica of the Santuario della Santa Casa which stands at the east end of a Renaissance square designed by Bramante, the Piazza della Madonna. Like many English tourists, Turner was fascinated by the Santuario and its most celebrated relic, the shrine of the Holy House. According to legend, the house was the home of the Virgin Mary which was transported from Palestine by a host of angels during the thirteenth century.
Cecilia Powell has identified the various sketches on this page as, from left to right:
Turner’s copy of the inscription which runs along the middle cornice of the façade of the Santuario della Santa Casa and reads ‘SVB GREGORIO XIII PONT OPT MAX ET PHILIPPO CARD VASTAVILL PROTECTORE AN MD LXXXIII’. Turner’s transcription is close, but not entirely accurate.
One of the three sets of bronze doors of the basilica.
The upper storey above the gateway on the west side of the Piazza della Madonna leading out to the present-day Piazza Giovanne XXIII. Also Turner’s transcription of the dedication to Pope Benedict XIV.
The west side of the Piazza della Madonna which is bordered by the two-storey colonnades of the shorter wing of the Palazzo Apostolico. The upper storey now houses the museum and art gallery of the Santuario della Santa Casa. Turner has drawn the view from the south-west corner of the square looking towards the opposite side.
The view of the Piazza della Madonna continues on the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 14 (D14679), with the façade of the Santuario.

Nicola Moorby
November 2008

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