Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Sculptural Fragments and Reliefs from the Vatican Museums, Including an Acroterion

1819

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 161 × 101 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D15128
Turner Bequest CLXXX 12 a

Catalogue entry

During his 1819 stay in Rome, one of Turner’s most extensive sketching campaigns was the large number of pencil studies made from the sculpture collections of the Vatican Museums (for a general discussion, see the introduction to the sketchbook). This page contains sketches of two objects, one or both of which were probably in the Museo Chiaramonti. The studies are numbered from top left to bottom right:
a.
The sketch at the top is a fragment of sculptural relief incorporating winged figures bearing a shield containing a portrait bust. The object is currently unidentified.
b.
Cecilia Powell has identified this sketch as an acroterion,1 found in the Galleria Lapidaria (Lapidary Gallery) of the Museo Chiaramonti.2 Generally designed to be placed at the apex of a pediment, an acroterion is an architectural ornament placed on a flat base, here in the form of a palmette motif. Turner has inscribed the study ‘same | at the side’ along the centre right-hand edge.

Nicola Moorby
November 2009

1
Powell 1984, p.413.
2
See Walther Amelung, Die Sculpturen des Vaticanischen Museums, Berlin 1903–8, vol.I, ‘2. Galleria Lapidaria Seite 161–308’, no.193, p.300, reproduced pl.29.

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