Joseph Mallord William Turner

Part of a View of Lake Albano with the Papal Palace at Castel Gandolfo


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 122 × 197 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 3

Catalogue entry

On his southward journey to Naples from Rome, Turner passed through the countryside of the Alban Hills. He made a number of sketches of this picturesque part of the country, particularly of the volcanic crater lakes of Albano and Nemi. This study is part of a panoramic view looking east across Lake Albano with the Papal Palace at Castel Gandolfo dominating the western (right) shore. Dating from the seventeenth century, this villa and gardens built by Carlo Maderno was the summer residence of the Pope. This view looking up towards the walls was one frequently depicted by artists,1 and it is likely that Turner was familiar with a similar prospect by James Hakewill (1778–1843), his collaborator on the topographical publication, Picturesque Views in Italy (published 1820).2 An alternative vista of the Papal Palace can be seen on folio 2 (D15557). The drawing continues on the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 2 verso (D15558) where the monastery of Palazzola and Monte Cavo beyond is visible on the other side of the lake.
Lake Albano was a popular subject for artists during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and Turner would have been particularly familiar with representations of it by John Robert Cozens (1752–1797) whose watercolours he had studied in his youth.3 It also appears as one of the notational pen-and-ink sketches after John ‘Warwick’ Smith (1749–1831) which Turner copied into the Italian Guide Book sketchbook prior to embarking on his first trip to Italy (see Tate D13968; Turner Bequest CLXXXII 20, third from top right). During his 1819 travels he made two sequences of swift outline studies recording the topography of the lake, particularly focusing on the distinctive outline of Castel Gandolfo on the western shore, see folios 4–5 (D15561–D15563), and also the Albano, Nemi, Rome sketchbook (Tate D15302–D15311, D15313–D15321, D15322–D15325; Turner Bequest CLXXXII 4–9, 10–15 and 16–17). These drawings later formed the basis for a large watercolour composition Lake Albano circa 1828 (private collection), commissioned for Charles Heath’s unrealised scheme for Picturesque Views in Italy but ultimately engraved for publication in The Keepsake 1829.4 Cecilia Powell has pointed out that Turner’s watercolour closely recalls a painting by Claude of the same subject, Pastoral Landscape with a View of Lake Albano and Castel Gandolfo, 1639 (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge), a work which he viewed in the Barberini collection in Rome and made notes on in the Remarks (Italy) sketchbook (see Tate D16848 and D16869–70; Turner Bequest CXCIII 80 and CXCIII 95a–6).5

Nicola Moorby
April 2010

See a painting by Pierre-Athanase Chauvin (1774–1832) incorrectly titled Montecassino, reproduced in Anna Ottani Cavina, Un Paese Incantato: Italia Dipinta da Thomas Jones a Corot, exhibition catalogue, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Parigi and Palazzo Te, Mantova, Italy 2001, no.97, p.151. Also a print by Luigi Rossini (1790–1857), Vedute di Castel Gandolfo prima d’arrivare in Albano, from Viaggio Pittoresco da Roma a Napoli, Rome 1839, tav.23. Reproduced at
Reproduced in 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.5.35, p.261.
For example Lake Albano, after John Robert Cozens circa 1795–7 (British Museum) and Lake Albano circa 1794–7 (National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh).
Fribourg 1979, no.731; reproduced in colour in Cecilia Powell, Italy in the Age of Turner: “The Garden of the World”, exhibition catalogue, Dulwich Picture Gallery 1998, p.46, fig.14; see also W[illiam] G[eorge] Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., London 1913, vol.II, no.320 (see Tate T04614 and T04615).
Powell, Turner Studies, 1984, p.23, and Powell 1987, p.89.

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