Joseph Mallord William Turner

View of the Waterfront at Castellammare di Stabia


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
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 CLXXXV 58

Catalogue entry

Finberg tentatively identified the subject of this sketch as Amalfi but it actually depicts a view of Castellammare di Stabia (formerly Castellamare or Castel a Mare), a city on the coast of the Sorrentine peninsula, approximately six miles north-east of Sorrento.1 Located beneath the heights of Monte Faito, part of the Lattari mountain range, it was built on the site of ancient Stabiae, overwhelmed by the same Vesuvian eruption which also destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum. During the late eighteenth century it became an important centre for shipbuilding and housed the naval arsenal of the Neapolitan royal family. Turner seems to have passed through en route between Sorrento and Naples. He made a number of studies from the sea but this drawing seems to have been taken from the shoreline. The vista looks west along the waterfront towards the distant hill of Pozzano on the far right-hand side. On the slopes to the left is the ninth-century castle from which Castellammare derives its name, whilst on the right is the arsenal and dockyard. A small part of the composition spills over onto the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 58 verso (D15906; Turner Bequest CLXXXV 91). Further studies of Castellammare can be seen on folios 39 verso–41, 59 verso–61 (D15812–D15814, D15846–D15849).

Nicola Moorby
October 2010

Finberg 1909, p.548.

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