Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Sculptural Fragments from the Vatican Museums, Including Four Altar Reliefs and the Tomb of Livia Ephyra


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 39 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 left to bottom right:
The sketches at the top of the page represent two relief panels with scenes of Dionysos and Aridane from the grave altar of Ti. Claudius Philetus. The object can be found in the Sala delle Muse.1
The sketches in the centre of the page depict two relief panels from a laraium (an altar to the Lares, or household gods), also in the Sala delle Muse.2 The drawing is annotated with the number ‘1115’.
Cecilia Powell has identified the subject of the bottom sketch as the Tomb of Livia Ephyra.3 Turner has transcribed the accompanying Latin inscription as ‘LIVIA EPIIYRE | AMARANTI | VIX A XXI’. The drawing is annotated with the number ‘1119’.
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

Georg Lippold, Die Skulpturen des Vaticanischen Museums, vol.III, no.1, Berlin 1956, no.515a, p.58, reproduced pl.31 and pl.32, top right.
Ibid., no.516a, reproduced pl.31, bottom and top right.
Powell 1984, p.416.

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