Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Sculptural Fragments from the Salone of the Palazzo Nuovo 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: 162 x 101 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXX 54 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 Salone (Great Hall). Most of the subjects were first identified by Cecilia Powell. The studies are numbered from top left to bottom right:
The two sketches in the top left-hand corner represent two sides of a four-sided base decorated with sculptural reliefs illustrating the legend of Zeus.1 The upper panel depicts Zeus seated on a throne, whilst the reclining figure below depicts Rhea. Studies of the two remaining panels can be seen on folio 55 (D15210; Turner Bequest CLXXX 54). The base supports a sculpture of the Infant Hercules.
The sketch on the right-hand side of the second row depicts part of a circular altar base decorated with reliefs of sacrificial scenes.2 The base supports a black marble statue of Aesculapius.
The sketch in the bottom left-hand corner depicts a statue of Artemis.3 Turner has annotated the drawing with the number ‘33’.
The central sketch at the bottom represents a statue of a Wounded Amazon.4 The drawing is annotated with the number ‘6’.
The sketch in the bottom right-hand corner depicts a different statue of a Wounded Amazon.5 The object, annotated with the number ‘11’, can be seen in a near-contemporaneous drawing by James Hakewill (1778–1843), Rome. Antiques of the Capitol. Saloon 1817 (British School at Rome Library).6
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).
Cecilia Powell has suggested that sketches of female sculpture such as the Wounded Amazons on this page, may have provided inspiration for the foreground figures in Turner’s later oil painting,7 Phyrne Going to the Public Baths as Venus – Demosthenese Taunted by Aeschines exhibited 1838 (Tate, N00522).8

Nicola Moorby
November 2009

Powell 1984, p.419; H. Stuart Jones, A Catalogue of the Ancient Sculptures preserved in the Municipal Collections of Rome. The Sculptures of the Museo Capitolino, Oxford 1912, ‘Salone’ no.3A, p.276, reproduced pl.66, nos.3A1 and 3A4. See also the Capitoline Museums online collection records,, accessed November 2009.
Powell 1984, p.419; Jones 1912, ‘Salone’ no.5A, p.278, reproduced pl.65, no.5A3. See also
Powell 1984, p.420; Jones 1912, ‘Salone’ no.26, p.291, reproduced pl.71. See also
Powell 1984, p.420; Jones 1912, ‘Salone’ no.19, p.286, reproduced pl.69. See also
Jones 1912, ‘Salone’ no.33, p.296, reproduced pl.72. See also Powell has erroneously suggested that this is a variant sketch of the same statue in (d).
See Tony Cubberley and Luke Herrmann, Twilight of the Grand Tour: A Catalogue of the drawings by James Hakewill in the British School at Rome Library, Rome 1992, no.5M.31, reproduced p.331.
Powell 1987, pp.59 and 203 note 42.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, no.373, reproduced pl.378.

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