Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Mole Lighthouse, Naples


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 122 × 197 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 65

Catalogue entry

One of the most famous landmarks in Naples during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was the old lighthouse which stood at the elbow of the former L-shaped Mole (pier) facing the port and arsenale (naval shipyard) near Castel Nuovo.1 It appears in countless paintings from the period, often looking east out to sea, with Vesuvius and the Sorrentine peninsula in the background.2 Turner has adopted a similar viewpoint here and has drawn the lighthouse from the entrance to the jetty looking across the Bay of Naples. For alternative studies of the lighthouse see folios 36 and 70–70 verso (D15625 and D15672–D15673; Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 35 and 58–58a), whilst for the view from the Mole looking in the opposite direction see folio 66 verso (D15687; Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 64a).

Nicola Moorby
June 2010

The port of Naples has undergone extensive redevelopment since the early nineteenth century but the approximate position of the lighthouse was near the present-day ferry terminal of Molo Angioino (Stazione Marittima).
See for example Thomas Jones (1742–1803), The Bay of Naples and the Mole Lighthouse 1782 (Tate, T08246) and John Robert Cozens (1752–1797), Vesuvius and Somma from the Mole at Naples, (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford). Both reproduced in Francis W. Hawcroft, Travels in Italy 1776–1783: Based on the “Memoirs” of Thomas Jones, exhibition catalogue, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester 1988, nos.110 and 112, pp.94–99.

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