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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner View of Naples from the Posillipo Hill 1819

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 14 Verso:
View of Naples from the Posillipo Hill 1819
Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 14 a
Pencil on white wove paper, 113 x 189 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The vantage point for this view across the city of Naples appears to be a winding road known as the Salita di Sant’Antonio (present-day Rampe Sant’Antonio) which zig-zags up the northern end of the Posillipo Hill towards the Church of Sant’Antonio. Turner’s sketch depicts the vista looking north-east from the road (which appears in the left-hand foreground) towards the distant hill topped by Castel Sant’Elmo and the Certosa di San Martino. A similar but more detailed composition can be seen in the Naples: Rome C. Studies sketchbook (Tate D16102; Turner Bequest CLXXXVII 14). For a near-contemporaneous view depicting the road see a drawing by the artist’s friend and colleague, James Hakewill (1778–1843).1
As Revd John Chetwode Eustace documented in his travel guide book, A Classical Tour Through Italy (first published 1813), the Salita di Sant’Antonio was the road which tourists would take to reach the ancient burial vault known as the Tomb of Virgil near the Grotto of Posillipo (now known as the Crypta Neapolitana in present-day Parco Virgilano).2 Related on-the-spot sketches from near Virgil’s Tomb can be seen on folio 15 (D15936) and in the Pompeii, Amalfi, Sorrento, Herculaneum sketchbook (Tate D15865–D15868; Turner Bequest CLXXXV 68–69a). Turner made notes from the relevant passage of Eustace’s publication in the Italian Guide Book sketchbook (see Tate D13955; Turner Bequest CLXXII 13).

Nicola Moorby
July 2010

Untitled drawing (British School at Rome Library), reproduced in Tony Cubberley and Luke Herrmann, Twilight ofthe Grand Tour: A catalogue of the drawings by James Hakewill in the British School at Rome Library, Rome 1992,no.5.49, p.278.
John Chetwode Eustace, A Classical Tour Through Italy, London 1817, vol.II, p.366.

How to cite

Nicola Moorby, ‘View of Naples from the Posillipo Hill 1819 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, July 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-view-of-naples-from-the-posillipo-hill-r1137859, accessed 20 May 2024.