Joseph Mallord William Turner

Four Sketches from the Road Between Menaggio and Porlezza; Including One of Lake Piano and Two of San Pietro Sovera


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 186 x 111 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXIV 69 a

Catalogue entry

Turner crossed from Lake Como to Lake Lugano via the road between Menaggio and Porlezza, a route served by diligence which took him through the Val Menaggio (also sometimes known as the valley of Porlezza) and past the Lago di Piano (Lake Piano). This journey was part of an expedition traditionally known as the ‘Giro dei tre Lagio’ (Tour of the Three Lakes).1 Turner would have been familiar with the route through his acquaintance with James Hakewill,2 and he also made relevant preparatory notes from Eustace’s A Classical Tour Through Italy, within the Italian Guide Book sketchbook (see Tate D13961; Turner Bequest CLXXII 16).
This page contains four distinct sketches, all of which were drawn from the road between Menaggio and Porlezza. The uppermost vista depicts a view of Lake Piano and further related studies can be found on folio 70 (D14278; Turner Bequest CLXXIV 69). The middle two sketches represent variant views of San Pietro Sovera, a small village which lies to the west of the lake on the River Cuccio. In particular the second sketch from the bottom shows the historic bridge crossing the river with an adjacent watermill. The bottom sketch is not conclusively identified although it may depict a distant view of Porlezza.

Nicola Moorby
January 2013

Federico Crimi, unpublished notes. See also Federico Crimi, ‘J.M.W. Turner e il Verbano: Repertorio’, in Verbanus, no.30, 2009, pp.37–8.
See ‘View of the Lago Piano and Lago di Lugano from the Road between Menaggio and Porlezza’, 1816 (British School at Rome). See Tony Cubberley and Luke Herrmann, Twilight of the Grand Tour: A Catalogue of the drawings by James Hakewill in the British School at Rome Library, Rome 1992, no.2.14, p.130, reproduced.

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