Joseph Mallord William Turner

View of a Town; and a Study of the Farnese Bull in the Villa Reale, Naples


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 113 × 189 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 52 a

Catalogue entry

This page contains two distinct drawings. The lower sketch depicts unidentified buildings along the brow of a hill. Meanwhile, as Cecilia Powell first identified, the inverted sketch at the top represents a study of the Farnese Bull, an ancient Greek sculptural group which formerly served as the centrepiece of a fountain in the Villa Reale (present-day Villa Comunale) on the Chiaia waterfront in Naples.1 As Turner knew from reading Eustace’s A Classical Tour Through Italy (first published 1813), the sculpture was excavated from the Baths of Caracalla in Rome during the sixteenth century and represents the punishment of Dirce who was tied to the horns of a wild bull by Zethus and Amphion, the sons of Antiope, see the Italian Guide Book sketchbook (Tate D13955; Turner Bequest CLXXII 13). In 1826, the work was removed to the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli where it can still be found today.2

Nicola Moorby
July 2010

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