Joseph Mallord William Turner

Part of a View of the Bay of Baiae seen from near the Temple of Mercury; and Sketches of the Roman Ruins, Baiae


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 77 a

Catalogue entry

This page contains several rough studies of the Roman remains at Baiae, an ancient bathing resort which lies on the coast approximately ten miles west of Naples. The most easily identifiable sketch is the one in the top left-hand corner, which represents part of a view looking south-east across the Bay of Baiae from near the so-called of Temple of Mercury.1 The building in the middle distance is the Castello di Baia (Castle of Baiae), a former Aragonese fortress which was rebuilt during the sixteenth century after the eruption of nearby Monte Nuovo. The composition spills over onto the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 80 (D15713; Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 78).
Turner made a large number of sketches of Baiae and its ancient monuments, see folios 80–81, 82, 84 verso–89 verso, 92 (D15713–D15715, D15717, D15722–D15732 and D15737; Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 78–79, 80, 82a–87a and 90). These drawings formed the compositional basis of one of three oil paintings completed in the months and years following Turner’s return from his first tour of Italy, The Bay of Baiae, with Apollo and the Sibyl exhibited 1823 (Tate, N00505).2

Nicola Moorby
June 2010

Powell 1984, p.425.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, no.230.

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