Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Sculptural Fragments from the Vatican Museums, Including a Statue of a Nymph and Part of the Front of a Sarcophagus


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 41 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 objects found in the Museo Pio-Clementino. The studies are numbered from top to bottom:
Cecilia Powell has identified the subject of the top sketch as a statue of a nymph.1 Today this figure, known as the ‘Ballerina di Goethe’, can be found in the Gabinetto delle Maschere (Cabinet of Masks).2 The object is annotated with the number ‘945’.
Powell has further identified the sketch at the bottom as representing a fragment of the front of a sarcophagus,3 also from the Gabinetto delle Maschere.4 The object is annotated with the number ‘937’.
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, ‘4 ... Gabinetto delle Maschere’, no.425, pp.673–6, reproduced pl.75.
Giandomenico Spinola, Il Museo Pio-Clementino, vol.II, Vatican City 1999, no.GM 38, pp.167–8, reproduced fig.28.
Powell 1984, p.416. See Amelung 1908, vol.II, no.426, pp.677–9, reproduced pl.78.
Spinola 1999, vol.II, no.GM 22, p.156, reproduced fig.28.

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