Joseph Mallord William Turner

Arch of Constantine and the Temple of Venus and Roma, Rome

1819

View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Medium
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 130 x 255 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D16396
Turner Bequest CXC 2

Catalogue entry

As Finberg first correctly identified, the subject of this sketch is the Arch of Constantine seen from the south-east.1 Turner has depicted the eastern façade of the monument but has only faintly indicated the position of the position of the attic bas-relief panel and the roundel and frieze below. More detailed studies of these decorations can be found in the St Peter’s sketchbook (Tate D16190; Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII 18). For further sketches of the Arch see folio 3 verso (D16398; Turner Bequest 4). In the background on the left of the view is the Palatine Hill, whilst on the right is the Temple of Venus and Roma and the bell-tower of the Church of Santa Francesca Romana (see folio 19, D16421).
Like many drawings within this sketchbook, the composition has been executed over a washed grey background and Turner has created areas of pale highlights by lifting or rubbing through to the white paper beneath. Unfortunately, in common with many of the sketches and watercolours chosen for display during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the work has suffered from overexposure to light and the paper has become irreversibly faded and discoloured.
1
Finberg 1909, vol.I, p.564.
Verso:
Blank except for traces of grey watercolour
Inscribed by ?John Ruskin in red ink ‘793 top right, inverted

Nicola Moorby
June 2009

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