Joseph Mallord William Turner

Two Views of the Bay of Naples and Vesuvius from the West


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 55

Catalogue entry

This page contains two distinct landscape sketches associated with Turner’s exploration of Naples. Both depict the city from the west but from different locations. The study in the top left-hand corner represents the view of the bay with Castel dell’Ovo and Vesuvius as seen from the Posillipo Hill above Virgil’s tomb (present-day Parco Vergiliano). This was one of the most famous viewpoints in Naples and had become an established vista for artists during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Turner would almost certainly have been familiar with the drawing by James Hakewill (1778–1843) engraved for the publication Picturesque Tour of Italy (1820), Naples and Mount Vesuvius from above Virgil’s Tomb 1816 (British School at Rome Library).1 A more detailed study of the prospect can be found within the Naples: Rome C. Studies sketchbook (Tate D16143; Turner Bequest CLXXXVII 55).

The inverted sketch in the bottom right-hand corner also represents a similar view with Vesuvius and the headland of Castel dell’Ovo but from a more inland, northerly position, possibly from somewhere on the Vomero hill.

Nicola Moorby
May 2010

See Tony Cubberley and Luke Herrmann, Twilight of the Grand Tour: A catalogue of the drawings by James Hakewill in the British School at Rome Library, Rome 1992, no.5.43, p.271, reproduced.

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