Joseph Mallord William Turner

Two Views of Lake Como; Including One of Sala Comacina, Campo and the Balbianello Peninsula


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 111 × 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXIV 66 a

Catalogue entry

Turner appears to have made two journeys by boat on Lake Como and this page relates to the second expedition which followed the western coast from Como in the south to Menaggio in the north.1 The sheet contains two sketches of the shore seen from the waters of the lake.
As the artist’s inscriptions indicate, the uppermost vista depicts a view looking north towards the villages of Sala Comacina and Campo, near Lenno on the western shore of the lake. Visible in the centre of the drawing is the Balbianello peninsula, a small headland upon which is built the Villa del Balbianello. Silhouetted at the end of the spur of land are the twin campanili of the convent church from which the villa was developed during the late eighteenth century. A related study can be seen on folio 61 verso (D14261; Turner Bequest CLXXIV 60a), and there is also a later drawing dating from a trip to Como in 1842 or 1843 (Tate D34543; Turner Bequest CCCXLIV d 166v). Turner seems to have been very struck by the atmospheric qualities of this view and has made a note concerning tone and colour in the top left-hand corner.
The subject of the lower vista has not been conclusively identified although it may depict an alternate view of Villa del Balbianello. Turner has continued the composition on the corner of the underlying sheet, see folio 66 verso (D14271; Turner Bequest CLXXIV 65a).
For further sketches of Lake Como see folio 48 (D14234; Turner Bequest CLXXIV 47).

Nicola Moorby
January 2013

See Federico Crimi, ‘J.M.W. Turner e il Verbano: 1819: Torino, Milano e il Sempione’, in Verbanus, no.28, 2007, p.28.

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