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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Four Views of Isola Bella, Lake Maggiore 1819

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 31 Recto:
Four Views of Isola Bella, Lake Maggiore 1819
Turner Bequest CXCIV 31
Pencil and grey watercolour wash on white wove paper, 121 x 195 mm
Inscribed by the artist in pencil ‘[?G door]’ bottom centre and ‘556’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CXCIV 31’ top right, ascending right-hand edge
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Following his expedition to the Simplon Pass, Turner returned to Milan in Italy, via Domodossola, Vogogna and the western shores of Lake Maggiore. Federico Crimi has identified the subject of the four sketches on this page as Isola Bella, one of the Borromean Islands within the western arm of the lake.1 The angles from which the artist has depicted the island, famous for its palazzo and elaborate terraced gardens, indicates that he was sketching from the Simplon road between Baveno and Stresa on the south-west side of the lake. The uppermost and bottom two vistas, for example, depict the view from the south with the Isola Pescatori (also known as the Isola Superiore) visible in the distance on the left. The middle study represents the view from the south-west.
Further views of Isola Bella can be found on folios 29 verso, 31 verso (D16945, D16948). For more detailed studies see also the Turin, Como, Lugarno, Maggiore sketchbook (Tate D14293; Turner Bequest CLXXIV 76a).

Nicola Moorby
May 2011

Crimi 2007, p.30 and unpublished notes. Not the Swiss town of Brig near the Simplon Pass as previously suggested by Finberg 1909, p.578.

How to cite

Nicola Moorby, ‘Four Views of Isola Bella, Lake Maggiore 1819 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, May 2011, 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-four-views-of-isola-bella-lake-maggiore-r1132822, accessed 21 April 2021.