Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Sculptural Fragments and Reliefs from the Vatican Museums, Including the Sarcophagus of M. Aurelius Ermogenes


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 9 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:
The sketch in the top left-hand corner appears to depict a grave altar although the object is currently unidentified.
In the top right-hand corner is a study of a fragment of sculptural relief depicting the figures of amorini (putti) bearing a festoon. The work is currently unidentified.
A sketch of an unidentified grave altar or ash urn, decorated with a sculptural relief of a vase and the Latin inscription ‘DMS | CVIBIOCS’. The first part translates as ‘D[is] M[anibus] S[acrum]’, ‘Sacred to the spirits of the departed’, and is a common phrase found on Roman funerary monuments.
A sketch of a hexagonal base or ash urn. The object is currently unidentified.
From the transcribed Latin inscription, Cecilia Powell has identified the bottom sketch as part of the sarcophagus of M. Aurelius Ermogenes,1 found in the Galleria Lapidaria (Lapidary Gallery) of the Museo Chiaramonti.2 The inscription appears within a round shield held by winged figures and reads ‘D[is] M[anibus] | MAVRELIO | ERMOGENE | AVIXITAN | ILIPOXV’.

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.182, p.294, not reproduced.

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