Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Sculptural Fragments from the Vatican Museums, Including a Seated Figure with a Musical Instrument and a Corner of a Frieze with a Battle Scene


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 38

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 objects found in the Museo Pio-Clementino. The studies are numbered from top left to bottom right:
Cecilia Powell has identified the subject of the sketch in the top left-hand corner as a statue of a seated figure with a musical instrument.1 The object was formerly exhibited in the Sala del Meleagro (Gallery of the Meleager),2 but today it can be found in Sala VI (Room 6) of the Galleria dei Candelabri (Gallery of the Candelabra).3 Turner has annotated the drawing with the number ‘215’.
The subject of the first sketch parallel with the right-hand edge of the page is currently unidentified. However, it appears to depict part of a relief, with a rider mounted on a horse.
Powell has identified the sketch in the bottom right-hand corner, parallel with the right-hand edge, as a corner of a frieze decorated with a relief of a battle scene, from the Sala del Meleagro (Gallery of the Meleager).4 Turner has annotated the drawing with the number ‘260’.
Turner’s annotations 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.416.
See Walther Amelung, Die Sculpturen des Vaticanischen Museums, Berlin 1903–8, vol.II, ‘Belvedere I’, no.18, p.48, reproduced pl.4.
Giandomenico Spinola, Il Museo Pio-Clementino, vol.III, Vatican City 2004, no.GC VI 18, pp.344–5, reproduced fig.37.
Powell 1984, p.416; see Amelung 1908, vol.II, no.22, pp.65–72, reproduced pl.5.

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