Joseph Mallord William Turner

Villas on the Coast of Posillipo, from Via Posillipo


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 82

Catalogue entry

Some of the most picturesque and celebrated scenery in southern Italy was found to the west of Naples in Posillipo, an area which derives its name from the Greek, ‘Pausílypon’, meaning ‘respite from care’. Turner travelled the length of this part of the coast along the Via Posillipo, the new road which had been under construction since 1812. Commissioned by the King of Naples, Joachim Murat, it followed the rugged line of the shore as far as the Capo di Posillipo and Pozzuoli. This sketch depicts a view from the road looking south. Part of a section of viaduct bridging the steep cliff tops can be seen on the right-hand side, whilst to the left at the water’s edge, are some of the many seafront villas and palazzos which had begun to appear within the coves and inlets since the seventeenth century.1 A more detailed composition of the same buildings with a distant view of Capri can be found in the Naples: Rome C. Studies sketchbook (Tate D16096; Turner Bequest CLXXXVII 9). Although not conclusively identified, the foremost structure perhaps represents the ruins of the seventeenth-century Palazzo del Duca d’Aquale (present-day Villa Mazziotti, built in 1849).
Related views from the Via Posillipo can be seen on folios 83 verso–87 (D16070–D16077; Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 81a–85), as well as the Gandolfo to Naples sketchbook (Tate D15669; Turner Bequest 56a) and the Naples: Rome C. Studies sketchbook (Tate D16094–6; Turner Bequest CLXXXVII 7–9).

Nicola Moorby
August 2010

The coastline is now heavily over developed and many of the original historic villas have been subsumed by modern buildings.

Read full Catalogue entry

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