Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Sculptural Fragments from the Vatican Museums, Including 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: 101 × 161 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXX 42 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 the front of a sarcophagus with a representation of the Porta dell’Ade.1 Today the object can be found in the West Portico of the Cortile Ottagono (also known as the Cortile Ottagonale, formerly the Cortile del Belvedere).2 The drawing is annotated ‘142’ which presumably relates to an exhibit number displayed on the work. However, it does not appear to correspond to any known lists published within contemporary guide books or catalogues of the Vatican collections.
The small sketch at the bottom of the page represents a fragment of a sculptural relief with figures, the source of which is currently unidentified.

Nicola Moorby
November 2009

Powell 1984, p.417; see Walther Amelung, Die Sculpturen des Vaticanischen Museums, Berlin 1903–8, vol.II, ‘2. Belvedere’, no.60, p.153, reproduced pl.17.
Giandomenico Spinola, Il Museo Pio-Clementino, vol.I, Vatican City 1996, no.PO 9, p.76, reproduced fig.10.

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