Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Sculptural Fragments from the Vatican Museums, Including the Ash Box of T. Bettvedius Vestalis

1819

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 161 × 101 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D15139
Turner Bequest CLXXX 18

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 four objects, some or all of which were probably found in the Museo Chiaramonti. The studies are numbered from top to bottom:
a.
Cecilia Powell has identified the subject of the top sketch as the ash box of T. Bettvedius Vestalis,1 from the collections of the Museo Chiaramonti.2
b.
This sketch appears to depict a sculptural fragment decorated with a palmette motif. The source is currently unidentified.
c.
Also unidentified is this sketch of an ornamental corbel.
d.
The bottom sketch depicts an unidentified composite capital.
Turner has annotated two of the sketches ‘524’ and ‘523’ which presumably relates 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

1
Powell 1984, p.413.
2
See Walther Amelung, Die Sculpturen des Vaticanischen Museums, Berlin 1903–8, vol.I, ‘Museo Chiaramonti I Seite 309–560’, no.322E, p.523, reproduced pl.54, bottom right.

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