Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Sculptural Fragments from the Palazzo Nuovo and the Palazzo dei Conservatori in the Capitoline Museums, Rome


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 57 a

Catalogue entry

In addition to sketching in the Vatican Museums, Turner made a thorough study of the ancient Greek and Roman sculptures in the Palazzo Nuovo of the Capitoline Museums. The drawings on this page represent works from the Galleria (Gallery) and the Sala delle Colombe (Hall of Doves). There is also a single item from the Sala dei Bronzi in the Palazzo dei Conservatori. The majority of the subjects were first identified by Cecilia Powell. The studies are numbered from top left to bottom right:
The sketches at the top of the page depict a vase decorated with Bacchic reliefs from the Galleria.1 These comprise a study of the lip of a vase, a general view of the whole object, and the figures from the sculptural relief. The drawing is annotated with the numbers ‘37’ and ‘11’.
The sketch second from top left represents a mosaic of doves after which the Sala delle Colombe (Hall of Doves) is named.2 The mosaic depicts four of the birds sitting on a bowl.
The sketch in the bottom right-hand corner depicts a double herm from the Sala delle Colombe, which stands to the right beneath the mosaic of doves.3 The heads of the herm are of two male deities, one bearded and one youthful.
The sketch in the bottom left-hand corner depicts the Crater of Mithradates from the collections of the Palazzo dei Conservatori.4 Turner has merely hinted at the fluted decoration which covers most of the body of the vase. In 1819 it would have been on display in the Sala dei Bronzi but today it can be seen in the Sala dei Trionfi.
Turner has inscribed some of his studies with the contemporary exhibit numbers of the objects. These date from 1816 when the return to Rome of works spoliated by Napoleon occasioned a complete reorganisation of the Capitoline Museums. The new arrangement was first published in Agostino Tofanelli’s, Catalogo delle sculture antiche e de’quadri esistenti nel Museo e Galleria da Campidoglio (1817).

Nicola Moorby
November 2009

Powell 1984, p.421; H. Stuart Jones, A Catalogue of the Ancient Sculptures preserved in the Municipal Collections of Rome. The Sculptures of the Museo Capitolino, Oxford 1912, ‘Galleria’ no.14, p.94, reproduced pl.27. See also the Capitoline Museums online collection records,, accessed November 2009.
Powell 1984, p.421; Jones 1912, ‘Sala delle Colombe’ no.13a, p.143, reproduced pl.34. See also
Jones 1912, ‘Sala delle Colombe’ no.14, p.144, reproduced pl.34. See also
H. Stuart Jones, A Catalogue of the Ancient Sculptures preserved in the Municipal Collections of Rome. The Sculptures of the Palazzo dei Conservatori, Oxford 1926, ‘Sala dei Bronzi’ no.10, reproduced pl.62. See also

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