The Palazzo Madama in Turin is an historic palace which stands in Piazza Castello near the centre of the city.1 Dating from the 1400s the palace was converted from a fortified Roman gate and was further enlarged during the early eighteenth century. Turner’s viewpoint for this detailed sketch is the south-east corner of the piazza looking towards the rear of the castle which still retains its fifteenth-century appearance. Visible to the left is part of the later Baroque façade, decorated with Corinthian pilasters and surmounted by a balustrade. A small part of the composition spills over onto the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 27 verso (D14197; Turner Bequest CLXXIV 26a). For an alternative view see folio 33 (D14208); Turner Bequest CLXXIV 32).
Turin was the first major city which Turner reached during his 1819 tour of Italy and this study is one of a significant number of drawings which he made during his brief sojourn there. The careful and precise nature of his sketches reflects his interest in Italian architecture, as well as his excitement at arriving at such a notable and important destination. For a list of further sketches of the city see folio 12 (D14166; Turner Bequest CLXXIV 11). A later record dating from Turner’s second trip in 1828 can also be found in the Rome, Turin and Milan sketchbook (Tate D21680; Turner Bequest CCXXXV 9).
This study of the Palazzo Madama was selected by Ralph Nicholson Wornum for the Second Loan Collection, a group of sixty-two works exhibited in the provinces during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.2 It was removed from the sketchbook and displayed within a mount. Consequently, like the other works included in those tours, the page has suffered badly from over-exposure to light and the paper has yellowed considerably.