J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Details of the Decorations of Raphael's Loggia in the Vatican: the Third and Fourth External Piers 1819

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 18 Verso:
Details of the Decorations of Raphael’s Loggia in the Vatican: the Third and Fourth External Piers 1819
D14962
Turner Bequest CLXXIX 18 a
Pencil on white wove paper, 186 x 112 mm
Inscribed by the artist in pencil with various notes on Raphael’s loggia [see main catalogue entry]
 
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The sketches on this page relate to Turner’s painted recreation of the loggia on the right-hand side of Rome from the Vatican. Raffaelle Accompanied by La Fornarina, Preparing his Pictures for the Decoration of the Loggia exhibited 1820 (Tate, N00503).1 They depict the fresco and stucco decorations on the third and fourth external piers of the Loggia of Raphael and comprise two distinct groups, from left to right:
a
On the left-hand side of the page are details of the stucco and grotesque decorations from the upper part of the lateral side (right-hand, or northern, as you are looking at the interior wall) of the third external pilaster (i.e. the pillar between the second and third window from the end). The stucco medallions comprise, from top to bottom: a lion; two lovers; a scene of sacrifice; and a man;2 whilst the grotesque decorations incorporate fish, shells and other marine motifs. The sketch is variously annotated with colour notes, from top to bottom, ‘R’, ‘Red’, ‘Yell’, ‘B’, ‘P W’, ‘Red’, ‘R’ ‘Y’ and ‘Y’.
b
On the right-hand side are details of the stucco and grotesque decorations from the upper part of the facing (front) side of the fourth external pilaster (i.e. the pillar between the third and fourth window from the end). The stucco medallions comprise, from top to bottom: a reclining woman with a cornucopia; a figure with a Medici ring; a scene from the legend of Muzio Scevola; and a portrait head.3 The lower grotesque decorations meanwhile incorporate two nude figures lying above a pediment and a classical goddess.4 Turner has inscribed the study with various colour notes, from top to bottom, ‘B’, ‘B’, ‘P’, ‘P Y’, ‘G’, ‘Yell’, ‘R’, ‘G’ and ‘Purple’, and, amidst the decorative scroll motif at the bottom ‘Yellow | Pier | Flow’.
Both drawings are continued on the opposite sheet of the double-page spread with the lower section of the pilasters, see folio 19 (D14963).
The decorations on the lateral side of the third pilaster appear in Rome from the Vatican to the immediate right of the foreground figure of Raphael. The details from the bottom of the fourth external pilaster, meanwhile, can be seen on the far left-hand side of the composition, dominating the full height of the picture space. Further studies related to the evolution of Rome from the Vatican can be found on folios 13 verso–18, 19–21 verso and 25–26 (D14955–D14962, D14963–D14966 and D14970–2), as well as an elaborate compositional drawing in pen and ink in the Rome C. Studies sketchbook (Tate D16368; Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 41). For a full description of the loggia and Turner’s sketches see folio 14 (D14956).
Turner also re-used the grotesque design from the third pilaster within another, later, finished oil painting, The Golden Bough exhibited 1834 (Tate, N00371).5 The lateral side of the pilaster featuring the fish motifs appears within a wall on the far left-hand side of the composition. This may reflect the Claudian spirit of the picture, employing the seventeenth-century artist’s practice of creating an idealised vision of Italy made up of composite parts.6 The picture incorporates a number of other references from Turner’s 1819 tour of the country, for example a classical building resembling the Temple of Clitumnus in Umbria, a lake surrounded by hills similar to Lakes Albano and Nemi, and fragments of antique sarcophagi such as those which the artist sketched in the Vatican Fragments sketchbook (Tate; Turner Bequest CLXXX).

Nicola Moorby
January 2010

1
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, no.228.
2
See Nicole Dacos, Le Logge di Rafaello: Maestro e bottega di fronte all’antico, Rome 1977, p.266, reproduced Tav.CIII, as ‘b) Pilastro IV.A, esterno’. The design is repeated on the opposite side of the window.
3
See Dacos 1977, p.267, reproduced Tav.CIV, as ‘b) Pilastro IV, opposto’.
4
The details are repeated on the fourth internal pilaster, see the engraving by Volpato, reproduced in Dacos 1977, Tav.LXXXIX b).
5
Butlin and Joll 1984, no.355.
6
See Powell 1987, p.170.

How to cite

Nicola Moorby, ‘Details of the Decorations of Raphael’s Loggia in the Vatican: the Third and Fourth External Piers 1819 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, January 2010, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-details-of-the-decorations-of-raphaels-loggia-in-the-vatican-r1137594, accessed 24 October 2019.