Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Sculptural Fragments from the Vatican Museums, Including Two Candelabra


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 50

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 includes sketches of objects found in the Museo Pio-Clementino. The studies are numbered from top left to bottom right:
The sketch on the top left-hand side depicts a marble candelabrum on a triangular base decorated with lions’ feet. The shaft is decorated with sculptural reliefs of birds, heads and leaves. The object can be found in the fifth bay of the Galleria dei Candelabri (Gallery of Candelabra, formerly the Galleria dei Miscellanee).1 Turner has annotated the drawing ‘1372’ 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.
Cecilia Powell has identified the subject of the second sketch at the top as a marble candelabrum on a triangular base with lion’s feet.2 The vertical shaft of the candelabrum is decorated with a twisting spiral pattern and has a pair of turtle doves fixed on the side. Each side of the base has a figure of a divinity in bas-relief. The object can be found in the fifth bay of the Galleria dei Candelabri.3
On the right-hand side near the top of the page is a sketch of a broad two-handled bowl, also found in the Galleria dei Candelabri.4
The subject of the sketch at the bottom of the page is currently unidentified although the visible detail of a wild boar suggests that it may depict part of a relief from a white marble vase representing the chase of various animals.5 This object is found in the fifth bay of the Galleria dei Candelabri.

Nicola Moorby
November 2009

Georg Lippold, Die Skulpturen des Vaticanischen Museums, vol.III, no.2, Berlin 1956, no.27, p.391, reproduced pl.166 and Giandomenico Spinola, Il Museo Pio-Clementino, vol.III, Vatican City 1999, no.GCSV 27, pp.314–6, reproduced fig.34. See also,s1034f.html>, accessed November 2009.
Powell 1984, p.418; Salomon Reinach Répertoire de Reliefs Grecs et Romains, vol.3, Paris 1912, 395, 1.
Lippold 1956, no.24, pp.389–90, reproduced pl.166. See also,s1034f.html>, accessed November 2009.
Lippold 1956, no.1, p.368, reproduced pl.163.
Ercole Massi, Sculptures and Galleries in the Vatican Palace, New York 2005, reprint of 1873 edition, p.210.

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