Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Summit of Vesuvius from Its Slopes; and Part of a View of the Gulf of Naples Seen from the Ascent


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 42

Catalogue entry

As Cecilia Powell first identified, Turner made a series of sketches of Naples and the surrounding landscape as seen from the ascent to the summit of Vesuvius, see folio 46 verso (D15645; Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 44a).1 This page contains two separate studies associated with that expedition. The main sketch on the left is part of a view of the Bay and Gulf of Naples looking west/south-west from the heights of the volcano.2 The composition continues on the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 43 verso (D15639; Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 41a).
The drawing on the right-hand side of the sheet depicts a view of the conical-shaped summit of Vesuvius seen from the slopes beneath. A thin trail of smoke issues from the crater and Turner’s rough, on-the-spot draughtsmanship captures a sense of the difficult, rocky terrain.

Nicola Moorby
May 2010

Powell 1984, p.424.
For a similar view compare John ‘Warwick’ Smith (1749–1831), City of Naples from Vesuvius 1778–9 (Tate, T08509).

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