Joseph Mallord William Turner

St Peter’s, Rome, from the Vatican Walls near Torre San Giovanni


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Crayon, graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 231 × 369 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 15

Display caption

This panoramic view across the city
shows the dominant and unmistakable form of Michelangelo's dome of St Peter's. Turner has added details in red crayon, and highlights which he created by rubbing through to the white paper beneath the grey ground.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

The subject of this sketch is a view of St Peter’s in Rome. Turner’s location is a point outside the western perimeter of the Vatican walls, near to Torre San Giovanni, looking east across to the famous basilica and Michelangelo’s distinctive dome. The viewpoint is very similar to that of an oil painting by Vanvitelli (Gaspar van Wittel, 1653–1736), L’abside di San Pietro dai giardini Vaticani (private collection).1 Like many drawings within this sketchbook, this composition has been executed over a washed grey background and Turner has created areas of pale highlights by lifting or rubbing through to the white paper beneath. He has also employed naturalistic touches of red chalk to indicate the brickwork of the wall in the foreground.
Reproduced in colour in Cesare de Seta, L’Italia del Grand Tour da Montaigne a Goethe, Naples 1996, p.139.
?Blank (float mounted to support).

Nicola Moorby
October 2009

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