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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Studies of Sculptural Fragments and Reliefs from the Vatican Museums, Including a Detail of a Lion Devouring a Horse from a Sarcophagus, and Part of the Funerary Altar of Herennia Sophe 1819

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 8 Verso:
Studies of Sculptural Fragments and Reliefs from the Vatican Museums, Including a Detail of a Lion Devouring a Horse from a Sarcophagus, and Part of the Funerary Altar of Herennia Sophe 1819
D15118
Turner Bequest CLXXX 7 a
Pencil on white wove paper, 161 x 101 mm
Inscribed by the artist in pencil (see main catalogue entry)
 
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
During his 1819 stay in Rome, one of Turner’s most extensive sketching campaigns was the large number of pencil studies made from the sculpture collections of the Vatican Museums (for a general discussion, see the introduction to the sketchbook). This page contains sketches of various objects, most or all of which were probably found in the Galleria Lapidaria (Lapidary Gallery) of the Museo Chiaramonti. The studies are numbered from top left to bottom right:
a.
Sketches from an unidentified monument including part of a sculptural relief with figures and a stylised leaf motif, and details recording the ornamental border beneath. The object is inscribed with the number ‘631’ along the left-hand edge.
b.
An unidentified object inscribed ‘8’.
c.
In the bottom left-hand corner is a detail of a lion devouring a horse from a fragment of a large sarcophagus formerly in the Galleria Lapidaria (Lapidary Gallery).1 Today it can be found in the Northern Portico of the Cortile Ottagono (also known as the Cortile Ottagonale, formerly the Cortile del Belvedere) in the Museo Pio-Clementino.2 The sketch is inscribed with the number ‘168’.
d.
Cecilia Powell has identified the study in the bottom right-hand corner as part of the funerary altar of Herennia Sophe,3 from the Galleria Lapidaria (Lapidary Gallery) of the Museo Chiaramonti.4 Turner has transcribed the Latin text from the object as ‘DM | HERENNIA | SOPHES | [?ANIVCI]’. The first part translates as ‘D[is] M[anibus]’, ‘To the spirits of the departed’, and is a common phrase found on Roman funerary monuments.
Turner’s annotated numbers presumably relate to exhibit numbers displayed on the individual works. However, they do not appear to correspond to any known lists published within contemporary guide books or catalogues of the Vatican collections.

Nicola Moorby
November 2009

1
See Walther Amelung, Die Sculpturen des Vaticanischen Museums, Berlin 1903–8, vol.I, ‘2. Galleria Lapidaria Seite 161–308’, no.111, pp.245–6, reproduced pl.25.
2
Giandomenico Spinola, Il Museo Pio-Clementino, Vatican City 1996, no.PN 45, 47, p.105.
3
Powell 1984, p.412.
4
See Amelung 1903–8, vol.I, no.26, p.188, not reproduced.

How to cite

Nicola Moorby, ‘Studies of Sculptural Fragments and Reliefs from the Vatican Museums, Including a Detail of a Lion Devouring a Horse from a Sarcophagus, and Part of the Funerary Altar of Herennia Sophe 1819 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, November 2009, 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-studies-of-sculptural-fragments-and-reliefs-from-the-vatican-r1139530, accessed 06 December 2021.