Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Sculptural Fragments from the Vatican Museums, Including Two Reliefs depicting the Labours of Hercules and a Votive Relief


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 41

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 a relief depicting the Labours of Hercules.1 Today this object can be found in the Gabinetto delle Maschere (Cabinet of Masks).2
Powell has identified the central sketch as representing a Greek votive relief with three figures,3 also from the Gabinetto delle Maschere.4 The drawing is inscribed ‘women’ and is annotated with the number ‘938’.
Powell has also identified the bottom sketch as representing another frieze depicting the Labours of Hercules,5 also from the Gabinetto delle Maschere.6 The drawing is annotated with the number ‘944’.
For other sketches depicting the Labours of Hercules in the Gabinetto delle Maschere, see folio 41 verso (D15183; Turner Bequest CLXXX 40a).
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

Powell 1984, p.417. See Walther Amelung, Die Sculpturen des Vaticanischen Museums, Berlin 1903–8, vol.II, ‘4 ... Gabinetto delle Maschere’, no.431, pp.690–4, reproduced pl.80.
Giandomenico Spinola, Il Museo Pio-Clementino, vol.II, Vatican City 1999, no.GM 20, pp.154–5, reproduced fig.27.
Powell 1984, p.417; see Amelung 1908, vol.II, no.428, pp.684–5, reproduced pl.79.
Spinola 1999, vol.II, no.GM 40, p.168, reproduced fig.28.
Powell 1984, p.417; see Amelung 1908, vol.II, no.444, pp.722–4, reproduced pl.80.
Spinola 1999, vol.II, no.GM 17, pp.154–5, reproduced fig.25.

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