Joseph Mallord William Turner

Two Views of Florence from Fiesole


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 189 × 113 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCI 84

Catalogue entry

As Cecilia Powell identified these two views of Florence were taken from Fiesole, a hill town to the north-east of the city celebrated for its panoramic vistas across the surrounding countryside. The top sketch depicts Florence in the far distance from Fiesole itself, whilst the lower drawing show the Duomo and the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio from the banks of the River Mugnone on the outskirts between Florence and Fiesole. Turner has inscribed the lower scene ‘Cyp in all’, a reference to the seventeenth-century Dutch painter, Aelbert Cuyp (1620–91). The year before departing on his Italian tour, Turner had exhibited a painting at the Royal Academy, Dort, or Dordrecht, the Dort Packet-Boat from Rotterdam Becalmed (Yale Center for British Art), which was a direct homage to the Cuyp’s Italianate landscape compositions and golden lighting.1 During his travels through Italy in 1819–20 he was reminded of the artist on at least two occasions, here in Florence, but also on the coast in the south of the country (see the Naples, Paestum, Rome sketchbook, Tate D15976; Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 33).2
Further sketches from Fiesole can be found on folios 30 verso, 31, 74–78, 79, 79 verso (D16542, D16543, D16608–D16616, D16618, D16619). Powell has suggested that the dark figure in the foreground of the lower study on this page may also have influenced Turner’s later design for the watercolour vignette, Florence, for Rogers’s Italy (see Tate D27673; Turner Bequest CCLXXXV 156).3
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, no.137.
See Fred Bachrach ‘Aelbert Cuyp’, in Evelyn Joll, Martin Butlin and Luke Herrmann (eds.), The Oxford Companion to J.M.W. Turner, Oxford 2001, p.69; and Powell 1984, p.27 note 19.
Powell 1984, p.520 note 71 and Powell 1987, p.206 note 111.

Nicola Moorby
February 2011

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