Joseph Mallord William Turner

Aosta from near the Cimitero Storico di Sant’Orso, Mount Emilius in the Distance

1802

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Medium
Chalk, gouache and graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 211 x 281 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D04503
Turner Bequest LXXIV 11

Catalogue entry

For Turner’s visit to Aosta in 1802 see Introduction to the sketchbook, and notes to D04501; Turner Bequest LXXIV 9.
Turner’s label for this drawing is probably the one inscribed ‘Alps vis a vis L’Aoust’ [sic]. The view of the city of Aosta is taken from the north or north-east, over the walls of the Cimitero Storico di Sant’Orso. Above the open gate can be seen the high walls of the Roman theatre and to its left the Porta Praetoria. Mount Emilius towers in the background, its peaks brightly sunlit. In his catalogue notes for Marlborough House, John Ruskin commented: ‘Turner has been especially struck by the levelness of the plain in which Aosta is built, in the midst of the Alps. He has taken unusual pains to mark this character, and its classicalness as opposed to the wild Swiss peaks above. Remember, this was the first sight he ever had of Italy.’1
Together with a drawing of the Arch of Augustus also from this sketchbook (D05402; Turner Bequest LXXIV 10) the present drawing must have supplied material for the watercolour vignette of Aosta made by Turner for Samuel Rogers’s poem Italy (1830), where it was engraved by Henry le Keux; the watercolour is Tate D27662; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 145.
Turner made a thumbnail sketch of a similar view of Aosta during his visit with H.A.J. Munro of Novar in 1836 (see the Val d’Aosta sketchbook, Tate D29052; Turner Bequest CCXCIII 11).
1
Cook and Wedderburn 1904 p.263; Ruskin on Pictures; Cook 1902, p.224.
Verso:
Blank, inscribed perhaps by a later hand in pencil ?‘7’

David Blayney Brown
September 2011

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