Joseph Mallord William Turner

View of Naples from the Hill below San Martino and Castel Sant’Elmo, with Santa Chiara and the Mole


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 46

Catalogue entry

This sketch represents a panoramic view looking north-east across Naples from an elevated viewpoint. The topographical details are sparse but it is possible to identify the rectangular basilica of Santa Chiara in the centre of the vista, and the Mole lighthouse on the far right-hand side with the Sorrentine peninsula beyond. Turner’s location for the sketch appears to be a terrace, a balcony, or a walled road in front of a hillside building with a number of other figures are also admiring the view. Finberg suggested that the artist’s viewpoint was somewhere in Montecalvario, an area to the east of Sant’Elmo which encompasses part of the Via Toldeo.1 However, the details of the prospect suggest that he may have been at a point slightly further west on the lower slopes of the Sant’Elmo/San Martino Hill, possibly from the monastic complex of Suor Orsola Benincasa (now the headquarters for the university of the same name). A couple of related views can be found on folios 48 verso–50 (D16003–D16006; Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 46a–48).
The drawing was one of a number of sketchbook pages selected for display from the Turner Bequest by John Ruskin.2 Unfortunately, in common with many of the sketches and watercolours exhibited during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the work has suffered from overexposure to light and the paper has become irreversibly discoloured.

Nicola Moorby
July 2010

Finberg 1909, p.552.
Cook and Wedderburn (eds.) 1904, p.305. The work also appears on a list for an exhibition at an unknown venue, tentatively dated ?1912 (see Tate catalogue files). There is no existing catalogue or any further available information.

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