Joseph Mallord William Turner

Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens, Florence, from Forte Belvedere


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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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 CXCI 52 a

Catalogue entry

Turner’s viewpoint for this view of the Boboli Gardens in Florence appears to have been the heights of Forte Belvedere in the south-east corner of the grounds. The vista looks north-west towards the Palazzo Pitti with the tall pointed bell-tower of Santo Spirito rising beyond. Visible in the distance is the River Arno, and on the far left-hand side, the hill of Bellosguardo. For further studies of the Boboli Gardens see folio 50 verso (D16570). A similar composition, Florence – View from the Fortress looking over the Gardens of the Palazzo Pitti 1816 (Library of the British School at Rome), was drawn by James Hakewill (1778–1843), Turner’s collaborator on Hakewill’s Picturesque Tour of Italy.1
The most detailed aspect of Turner’s sketch is the façade of the Palazzo Pitti, a Renaissance palace with a courtyard (cortile) façade characterised by rusticated columns opening onto the garden. Directly in front of the building is the Fontana del Carciofo (Fountain of the Artichoke), designed by Francesco Susini (circa 1585–1653). Formerly owned by the powerful Medici family, at the time of Turner’s visit the palace was the residence of the Austrian House of Lorraine. Today it houses a complex of museums and galleries.

Nicola Moorby
December 2010

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.2.38, p.155 reproduced.

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