Joseph Mallord William Turner

Palazzo Vidoni, Rome


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 114 × 189 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII 63 a

Catalogue entry

Cecilia Powell has identified the subject of this sketch as the Palazzo Vidoni-Caffarelli, a sixteenth-century palace which stands in the heart of the city of Rome on present-day Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. Turner’s interest in the building would have derived from the belief that its architect was the great Renaissance master, Raphael (1483–1520), the man whose works were considered the pinnacle of artistic achievement during the nineteenth century. Like the statue of Jonah which Turner sketched in the Chigi Chapel of Santa Maria del Popolo, see folio 48 (D16140; Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII 47), Raphael’s authorship is now considered to be limited and the design of the palace is generally attributed to his student, Lorenzo Lotti, also known as Lorenzetto (1490–1541).1
Turner’s sketch was clearly executed swiftly. It contains just enough visual information to record the key architectural elements of the building’s façade such as the rusticated cladding on the ground floor and the pairs of semi-columns flanking the windows on the first storey. The artist has not troubled to draw the entire length of the palace and instead has indicated the number of times specific features are repeated.

Nicola Moorby
January 2009

Stefan Grundmann, The Architecture of Rome, Stuttgart 1998, pp.138–9.

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