Joseph Mallord William Turner

Torre San Giovanni and St Peter’s, Rome


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 229 × 368 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 32 v

Catalogue entry

The machicolated tower which is the subject of this sketch appears to be the Torre San Giovanni (Tower of St John), part of the medieval wall which forms the western boundary of the Vatican City. Turner’s viewpoint is from the south-west and on the right of the page he has very faintly added the outline of St Peter’s and the Vatican.
Turner drew this sketch on the blank verso of a page which had been covered with a grey watercolour wash (D16358). Unfortunately, owing to overexposure of the recto during the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries, the sheet has suffered irreversible discolouration. Peter Bower has suggested that this is probably down to the high content of indigo in the grey watercolour wash, rather than properties within the paper.1

Nicola Moorby
July 2009

Peter Bower, Turner’s Papers: A Study of the Manufacture, Selection and Use of his Drawing Papers 1787–1820, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1990, p.120.

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