Joseph Mallord William Turner

Sketches of the Interior and Exterior of San Lorenzo fuori le mura, 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 86 a

Catalogue entry

This page contains several studies relating to the Basilica of San Lorenzo fuori le mura [St Lawrence outside the Walls], one of the seven pilgrimage churches of Rome.1 The church lies on the east of the city, just outside of the ancient walls, and is linked by the Via Tiburtina to the nearby Porta San Lorenzo, see folio 88 (D16317; Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII 87).
The main sketch, inverted on the page, is a view of the interior with the columns supporting the lower and upper arcades of the nave. In particular, Turner has noted one of two capitals in the church which are decorated with sculpted figures (victories) and trophies. There are also a number of drawings executed at the top of the page with the sketchbook held vertically like a notebook. On the left is a sketch of the portico of the church with the base of the adjacent Column of San Lorenzo. On the right is a general view of the church with its Romanesque bell-tower, and a smaller separate study of the Ionic scrolls which top the columns of the portico. Compare earlier illustrations by Guiseppe Vasi and Piranesi, Veduta della Basilica di San Lorenzo fuor delle mura, from the Veduta di Roma.2

Nicola Moorby
January 2009

The others are San Giovanni in Laterano, St Peter’s, Santa Maria Maggiore, San Paolo fuori le Mura, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme and San Sebastiano.
Luigi Ficacci, Piranesi: The Complete Etchings, Köln and London 2000, no.924, reproduced p.714.

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