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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner The Duomo, Turin 1819

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 29 Recto:
The Duomo, Turin 1819
Turner Bequest CLXXIV 28
Pencil on white wove paper, 111 x 186 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in blue ink ‘28’ top right and ‘284’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CLXXIV 28’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
As Finberg first identified,1 the subject of this sketch is the fifteenth-century Duomo of Turin (also known as the Cattedrale di San Giovanni, or Cathedral of St John the Baptist), the most important Roman Catholic church in northern Italy. Turner’s viewpoint is directly in front of the cathedral looking east onto the façade. To the left is the campanile, completed in 1470, and of a slightly earlier style than the main building, and Turner has also included a bustling array of figures gathered in the piazza in front of the steps. Also visible in the drawing is the adjoining seventeenth-century Cappella della Sacra Sindone (Chapel of the Holy Shroud), which as Turner noted in the Italian Guide Book sketchbook, houses the celebrated Turin Shroud (see Tate D13962; Turner Bequest CLXXII 16a). In Turner’s sketch the chapel is the larger, Baroque dome rising behind the smaller, plainer dome of the main cathedral.
Turin was the first major city which Turner reached during his 1819 tour of Italy and this study is one of a significant number of drawings which he made during his brief sojourn there. The careful and precise nature of his sketches reflects his interest in Italian architecture, as well as his excitement at arriving at such a notable and important destination. For a list of further sketches of the city see folio 12 (D14166; Turner Bequest CLXXIV 11).

Nicola Moorby
December 2012

Finberg 1909, p.508.

How to cite

Nicola Moorby, ‘The Duomo, Turin 1819 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, December 2012, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, August 2013, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-the-duomo-turin-r1142721, accessed 19 January 2022.