Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Sculptural Fragments and Reliefs from the Vatican Museums, Including the Statue Base of Attius Insteius Tertullus


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 161 × 101 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXX 8 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 various objects, most or all of which were probably found in the Galleria Lapidaria (Lapidary Gallery) of the Museo Chiaramonti. The studies are numbered from top left to bottom right:
Cecilia Powell has identified the sketch in the top left-hand corner as an inscription to Deus Arimanius,1 found in the Galleria Lapidaria (Lapidary Gallery) of the Museo Chiaramonti.2 Turner has transcribed the Latin text as ‘D. ARIMANIO | ACRESTIVS V.C | DEFENSOR | MaCISTEB.ET | PATER. PATRVM | YOCL. CO’.
Powell has identified the sketch in the top right-hand corner as the base of the statue of Attius Isteius Tertullus,3 also found in the Galleria Lapidaria (Lapidary Gallery) of the Museo Chiaramonti.4 Further details of the sculptural reliefs and decorative features of this monument can be seen on folio 10 (D15121; Turner Bequest CLXXX 9). Turner has numbered the object ‘109’.
This sketch appears to show the top of one of the Ionic pilasters in the Cortile del Belvedere.5
A sketch of a sculptural relief with figures and a stylised leaf motif, and part of the ornamental border beneath. The object is currently unidentified.
As Powell noted, the monuments of Deus Arimanius and Attius Isteius Tertullus at the top of the page still stand adjacent to each other in the museum, as Turner has recorded them in his sketch.6
Turner’s annotated numbers presumably relate to exhibit numbers displayed on the individual works. However, they do not appear to correspond to any known lists published within contemporary guide books or catalogues of the Vatican collections.

Nicola Moorby
November 2009

Powell 1984, p.412.
See Walther Amelung, Die Sculpturen des Vaticanischen Museums, Berlin 1903–8, vol.I, ‘2. Galleria Lapidaria Seite 161–308’, no.78, p.225, visible on pl.25, no.73 (left).
Powell 1984, p.412
See Amelung 1903–8, vol.I, no.73, pp.216–8, reproduced pl.25 (left).
Visible in Amelung 1903–8, vol.II, pl.25.
Powell 1987, p.56.

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