Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study of a Grave Altar in the Vatican Museums; also a ?Distant View of St Peter’s, Rome


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 23

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 a sketch of an unidentified grave altar, probably found in the Galleria Lapidaria (Lapidary Gallery) of the Museo Chiaramonti. Turner has transcribed the Latin inscription from the monument as ‘DIS MANIBUS | VIX.XXX | AHERENNVIEIVS | CEYGO | BENEMERENTI . FECIT’. The first line translates as ‘To the spirits of the departed’, and is a common phrase on Roman funerary monuments.
There is also a separate rough sketch inverted at the bottom of the page which appears to depict a view of a building through arched windows. Finberg described it as a distant view of St Peter’s.

Nicola Moorby
November 2009

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like

In the shop