Joseph Mallord William Turner

Details of the Decorations of Raphael’s Loggia in the Vatican: the Third and Fourth External Piers


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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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 18 a

Catalogue entry

The sketches on this page relate to Turner’s painted recreation of the loggia on the right-hand side of 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 fresco and stucco decorations on the third and fourth external piers of the Loggia of Raphael and comprise two distinct groups, from left to right:
On the left-hand side of the page are details of the stucco and grotesque decorations from the upper part of the lateral side (right-hand, or northern, as you are looking at the interior wall) of the third external pilaster (i.e. the pillar between the second and third window from the end). The stucco medallions comprise, from top to bottom: a lion; two lovers; a scene of sacrifice; and a man;2 whilst the grotesque decorations incorporate fish, shells and other marine motifs. The sketch is variously annotated with colour notes, from top to bottom, ‘R’, ‘Red’, ‘Yell’, ‘B’, ‘P W’, ‘Red’, ‘R’ ‘Y’ and ‘Y’.
On the right-hand side are details of the stucco and grotesque decorations from the upper part of the facing (front) side of the fourth external pilaster (i.e. the pillar between the third and fourth window from the end). The stucco medallions comprise, from top to bottom: a reclining woman with a cornucopia; a figure with a Medici ring; a scene from the legend of Muzio Scevola; and a portrait head.3 The lower grotesque decorations meanwhile incorporate two nude figures lying above a pediment and a classical goddess.4 Turner has inscribed the study with various colour notes, from top to bottom, ‘B’, ‘B’, ‘P’, ‘P Y’, ‘G’, ‘Yell’, ‘R’, ‘G’ and ‘Purple’, and, amidst the decorative scroll motif at the bottom ‘Yellow | Pier | Flow’.
Both drawings are continued on the opposite sheet of the double-page spread with the lower section of the pilasters, see folio 19 (D14963).
The decorations on the lateral side of the third pilaster appear in Rome from the Vatican to the immediate right of the foreground figure of Raphael. The details from the bottom of the fourth external pilaster, meanwhile, can be seen on the far left-hand side of the composition, dominating the full height of the picture space. Further studies related to the evolution of Rome from the Vatican can be found on folios 13 verso–18, 19–21 verso and 25–26 (D14955–D14962, D14963–D14966 and D14970–2), as well as an elaborate compositional drawing in pen and ink in the Rome C. Studies sketchbook (Tate D16368; Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 41). For a full description of the loggia and Turner’s sketches see folio 14 (D14956).

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 Nicole Dacos, Le Logge di Rafaello: Maestro e bottega di fronte all’antico, Rome 1977, p.266, reproduced Tav.CIII, as ‘b) Pilastro IV.A, esterno’. The design is repeated on the opposite side of the window.
See Dacos 1977, p.267, reproduced Tav.CIV, as ‘b) Pilastro IV, opposto’.
The details are repeated on the fourth internal pilaster, see the engraving by Volpato, reproduced in Dacos 1977, Tav.LXXXIX b).
Butlin and Joll 1984, no.355.
See Powell 1987, p.170.

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