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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Vignette Study of Leaning Tower, ?Bologna, ?for Rogers's 'Italy' c.1826-7

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Vignette Study of Leaning Tower, ?Bologna, ?for Rogers’s ‘Italy’ circa 1826–7
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 102
Watercolour, approximately 115 x 135 mm on white wove paper, 168 x 239 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘(102’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 102’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The vagueness of this unfinished watercolour sketch led Finberg to suggest that it could be a study for Tornaro, a subject that Turner illustrated for Rogers’s Poems (see Tate D27689; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 172). However, Jan Piggott has linked the palette and pink leaning architectural form with another vignette study, Leaning Towers of Bologna (Torre Asinelli and Torre Garisenda (see Tate D27531; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 14).1 This is a subject Turner appears to have experimented with for Rogers’s Italy, probably as a potential illustration to the section ‘Bologna,’ in which Rogers’s describes an encounter with the poet, Lord Byron.
Turner visited Bologna in 1819 and produced a number of sketches of the city, including quite a few view of the Torre Garisenda (see Tate D14546, D14648, D14641; Turner Bequest CLXXVI 29, 30, 79 and Tate D14870; Turner Bequest CLXXVIII 21a). However, none of these sketches bear any close resemblance to this study and it seems likely that he developed this composition from memory.

The watercolour was part of a parcel of vignette studies labelled by John Ruskin as ‘Studies for Italy. Coarse, but noble’.2 Finberg records how Ruskin later described his phrasing in a letter to Ralph Nicholson Wornum as ‘horrible’, adding ‘I never meant it to be permanent’.3
Piggott 1993, p.96.
Finberg 1909, vol.II, p.896.
Finberg 1909, vol.I, p.xi.
Inscribed by unknown hands in pencil ‘AB 83 P’ and ‘R’ and ‘CCLXXX 102’ bottom right

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

How to cite

Meredith Gamer, ‘Vignette Study of Leaning Tower, ?Bologna, ?for Rogers’s ‘Italy’ c.1826–7 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, August 2006, 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-vignette-study-of-leaning-tower-bologna-for-rogerss-italy-r1133332, accessed 30 May 2024.