Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Mole Lighthouse, Naples with Vesuvius Beyond; and Three Views Including the Port of Pozzuoli


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 58

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 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 This is the view represented here with the L-shaped jetty stretching from the quayside into the boat-filled harbour on the left, and the gently smoking crater of the volcano dominating the horizon beyond. For alternative studies of the lighthouse see folios 36, 67 and 70 verso (D15625, D15688 and D15673; Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 35, 65 and 58a). Also on this sheet are three small thumbnail landscape sketches, of which the view in the bottom right-hand corner appears to depict the old port of Pozzuoli from the sea.
During the nineteenth-century survey of the Turner Bequest this page was erroneously numbered ‘58’ instead of ‘68’ (probably by John Ruskin), causing Finberg to list the page as missing.3

Nicola Moorby
May 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.
Finberg 1909, p.545.

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