Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Sculptural Fragments from the Vatican Museums, Including Three Sketches of a Lion and Two Sketches of a Statue of Winter


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 34 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 two objects, one or both of which were found in the Museo Chiaramonti. The studies are numbered from top to bottom:
Cecilia Powell has identified the three sketches at the top as depicting a table-leg in the form of a lion, found in the collections of the Museo Chiaramonti.1 However, they may also represent three different lion heads from a series found in the Sala degli Animali.2
Powell has identified the inverted sketches at the bottom as depicting a statue of Winter from the Museo Chiaramonti.3 Turner has drawn the object twice from two different angles and has also made a separate study of the face. The large female deity is surrounded by five smaller figures of erotes.
Gerald Finley has suggested that the amoretti or erotes (winged gods of love) around the sculpture of Winter may have inspired the winged infant visible beneath the marble statue of a reclining figure in Turner’s large oil painting, Rome from the Vatican. Raffaelle Accompanied by La Fornarina, Preparing his Pictures for the Decoration of the Loggia exhibited 1820 (Tate, N00503).4

Nicola Moorby
November 2009

Powell 1984, p.415; see Walther Amelung, Die Sculpturen des Vaticanischen Museums, Berlin 1903–8, vol.I, ‘Museo Chiaramonti I’, no.60 D, p.347, reproduced, pl.36, lower left.
See Amelung 1908, vol.II, ‘2. Belvedere II. Sala Degli Animali’, reproduced pls.36 and 37.
Powell 1984, p.415. see Amelung 1903–8, vol.I, no.13, pp.320–1, reproduced pl.32.
Finley 1986, p.63 note 40; Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, no.228.

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