Joseph Mallord William Turner

Details of the Decorations of Raphael’s Loggia in the Vatican: The Second and Third Piers, the Balustrade and the Floor


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 186 × 112 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXIX 21

Catalogue entry

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 in the Vatican. The drawings on this page relate to Turner’s recreation of the loggia on the right-hand side of his oil painting, Rome from the Vatican. Raffaelle Accompanied by La Fornarina, Preparing his Pictures for the Decoration of the Loggia exhibited 1820 (Tate, N00503).1 They depict the stucco decorations from the arches above the second and third external piers of the loggia (i.e. the pillars between the first and second, and second and third windows from the end), arranged in four distinct groups, from top to bottom:
The sketches at the top of the page depicts the external (window) and transverse (vault) arches (intrados) above the second external pier, identifiable from the details of the stucco panels.2 Turner has inscribed the study ‘2 arch arch’.
The sketches across the centre of the page represent the top of the third external pier comprising the spandrel, and the external and transverse arches (intrados).3 Turner has made thumbnail studies of the stucco decorations, including on the left, a seated man and Bacchus and Ariadne, from the exterior (window) arch,4 and on the right, centaurs, and Oreste and Erinni from the transverse arch.5 He has also transcribed the Latin inscription ‘LXPM’ [Leo X Pontificus Maximus]’ twice from the exterior arch, and noted ‘[?Dead] End’ on the panel in between.
Along the centre left-hand edge is a careful study of one of the double moulded shafts of the balustrade beneath the windows of the loggia.
The sketches in the bottom right-hand corner represent the sections of the interlacing and arabesque patterned floor of the loggia.6 Turner has variously annotated the studies with colour notes including ‘G Ybr’, ‘W’, ‘Y’, ‘B’, ‘Yellow’, ‘[?Darker] | M’, ‘[?Plinth 8]’, ‘G’, ‘G’, ‘Yell | P | WS’, ‘[?B...] Squares’, ‘Blue in the M[...]’, ‘Y’, ‘L’, ‘B’, ‘Y’ and ‘W Band’. The paving was originally of glazed majolica but these were removed in 1890 and replaced with grey marble slabs.7

Nicola Moorby
January 2010

Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, no.228.
See the transverse vault stuccos of cavalry and a battling man and centaur in Nicole Dacos, Le Logge di Rafaello: Maestro e bottega di fronte all’antico, Rome 1977, reproduced Tav.LXV as ‘c) Sottarco II.C’ and ‘b) Sottarco II.B’.
See the reproduction of the third vault in Dacos 1977, Tav.IV, as ‘Volta III – Veduta d’insieme’, and also visible in Tav.LVIII, ‘Pennacchi IV.4’.
See ibid., reproduced Tav.LXVII, as ‘b) Sottarco III.A, esterno’, ‘c) Sottarco III.B, esterno’, and ‘d) Sottarco III.C, esterno’.
Ibid., reproduced TAV.LXVI, as ‘d) Sottarco III.B’, and Tav.LXVII, as ‘a) Sottarco III.C’.
Ibid., reproduced Tav.CXLV, as ‘b) Pavimento delle Logge – Particolare di una composizione, dal disegno di F. La Vega. Biblioteca Vaticana’.
Nicole Dacos, The Loggia of Raphael: A Vatican Art Treasure, New York and London 2008, pp.15 and 330 note 6.
See Powell 1987, pp.62 and 116–7, and Hamilton et al. 2009, p.53. Hamilton, for example, has described the studies as ‘far more detailed than [Turner] would reasonably need if he were not sympathetic to, and even complicit in, a complete copying of them’ and has stated that the artist only ‘used a fraction’ of them.

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