Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Sculptural Fragments from the Vatican Museums, Including a Torso of a Satyr and the Grave Altar of Q. Gaius Musicus and Volumnia Ianuaria


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 161 x 101 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXX 19 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 three objects, some or all of which were probably found in the Museo Chiaramonti. The studies are numbered from top left to bottom right:
Cecilia Powell has identified the sketch in the top left-hand corner as a torso of a satyr,1 found in the Galleria Lapidaria (Lapidary Gallery).2
The sketch in the top right-hand corner is currently unidentified but appears to depict a grave altar or ash urn.
Powell has identified the remaining sketch as the grave altar of Q. Gavius Musicus and Volumnia Ianuaria.3 Formerly found in the Galleria Lapidaria,4 today the altar can be seen in the South Portico of the Cortile Ottagono (also known as the Cortile Ottagonale, formerly the Cortile del Belvedere) in the Museo Pio-Clementino.5 Turner has depicted the altar from an oblique three-quarter angle which shows the front as well as the relief panel on the right-hand side. He has also transcribed the accompanying Latin inscription which reads ‘DIS.MANIBVS’ [To the spirits of the departed] and ‘DI | Q.GAVI.MVSICI.VOLVMNIA | SANVARIA.CONIVCI.CARISSIMO | BENFDESEMERITO.FECIT.ET.SIBI.ET | LIBERTIS. LIBERTABVSQ. POSTERISQ: FORUM’.

Nicola Moorby
November 2009

Powell 1984, p.413.
See Walther Amelung, Die Sculpturen des Vaticanischen Museums, Berlin 1903–8, vol.I, ‘2. Galleria Lapidaria Seite 161–308’, no.115, p.240, reproduced pl.27.
Powell 1984, p.413.
See Amelung 1903–8, vol.I, ‘2. Galleria Lapidaria Seite 161–308’, no.115a, pp.249–50, reproduced pl.27.
Giandomenico Spinola, Il Museo Pio-Clementino, vol.I, Vatican City 1996, no.PS 12, reproduced fig.7, pp.56–7.

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