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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Two Sketches of the Castle at Avigliana, and One of the Sacra di San Michele from the East 1819

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 9 Verso:
Two Sketches of the Castle at Avigliana, and One of the Sacra di San Michele from the East 1819
D14161
Turner Bequest CLXXIV 8 a
Pencil on white wove paper, 186 x 111 mm
 
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This page contains three sketches, all relating to the start of Turner’s Italian journey in 1819, through the Val di Susa between Susa and Turin. In this instance the artist has drawn views looking in opposite directions from the same point on the road.
The two uppermost views show the distant castle of Avigliana, a town approximately twenty-two miles east of the French-Italian border. Situated on a spur of land to the west of the town, the castello was destroyed by the French during the seventeenth century. Turner has drawn the ruins from the west, looking east in the direction of travel towards Turin. Similar views can be seen on folio 8 verso (D14159; Turner Bequest CLXXIV 7a).
As Federico Crimi first identified, the sketch at the bottom of the page depicts the Sacra di San Michele, an ancient abbey situated in the Val di Susa.1 Founded during the tenth century, the abbey stands on Mount Pirchiriano, near Avigliana and, although at the time of Turner’s 1819 tour of Italy it was an abandoned ruin, it was nonetheless a distinctive landmark in this part of the Susa Valley. Turner made several drawings of it from various viewpoints, see folios 7–9 (D14156–D14160; Turner Bequest CLXXIV 6–8).

Nicola Moorby
December 2012

1
Crimi 2007, p.23 note 16.

How to cite

Nicola Moorby, ‘Two Sketches of the Castle at Avigliana, and One of the Sacra di San Michele from the East 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-two-sketches-of-the-castle-at-avigliana-and-one-of-the-sacra-r1142684, accessed 14 June 2024.