Joseph Mallord William Turner

Vignette Study of Leaning Towers of Bologna (Torre Asinelli and Torre Garisenda), ?for Rogers’s ‘Italy’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 277 × 345 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 14

Catalogue entry

Turner probably produced this unfinished watercolour sketch as an experimental vignette composition for Rogers’s Italy. It shows the two landmark towers of Bologna framed by a vague cityscape, The tall, upright Torre Asinelli is drawn as the a faint pencil outline, whilst the leaning Torre Garisenda is described with a pink watercolour wash. Turner probably conceived the subject as a potential illustration to a section in Italy entitled ‘Bologna,’ in which Rogers describes an encounter with Lord Byron. The two poets met in Bologna in 1821 and travelled together to Florence; Byron died in Greece only a few years later.
Turner visited Bologna in 1819 and produced a number of sketches of the city, including multiple views of the two towers (see Tate D14546, D14648, D14641; Turner Bequest CLXXVI 29, 30, 79 and Tate D14870; Turner Bequest CLXXVIII 21a). However, none of these sketches bears any close resemblance to this study and it seems likely that he developed the composition from memory. He also produced another view of the Torre Garisenda in what appears to have been a second experimental study of this subject for Rogers’s Italy (see Tate D27531; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 14).
Technical notes:
Watermark ‘T Edmonds 1825’
Inscribed by unknown hands in pencil ‘AB 117 P’ and ‘M’ and ‘CCLXXX 14’ bottom right

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

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