Joseph Mallord William TurnerBasilica of Constantine and the Roman Forum, from the Palatine Hill, Rome 1819

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Artwork details

Artist
Title
Basilica of Constantine and the Roman Forum, from the Palatine Hill, Rome
From Rome: Colour Studies Sketchbook
Turner Bequest CLXXXIX
Date 1819
MediumGraphite on paper
Dimensionssupport: 229 x 368 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D16382
Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 53
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Catalogue entry

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 53 Recto:
Basilica of Constantine and the Roman Forum, from the Palatine Hill, Rome 1819
D16382
Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 53
Pencil, white gouache and grey watercolour wash on white wove ‘Valleyfield’ paper, 229 x 368 mm
Stamped in black ‘CLXXXIX 53’ bottom right
 
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The Palatine Hill was one of the most popular vantage points in Rome and Turner made a large number of studies from the location, recording views of the city seen in all directions. This sketch depicts the prospect seen from the Farnese Gardens (Orti Farnesina) on the north-eastern side, near the Church of San Sebastiano al Palatino. Turner’s view looks north-west across the Forum. Dominating the composition are the vast ruins of the Basilica of Constantine and Maxentius (erroneously known in the past as the Temple of Peace, hence Finberg’s attribution).1 On the far right-hand side is the church and bell-tower of Santa Francesca Romana, whilst to the left is the square Torre dei Milize and three domes belonging respectively to Santi Luca e Martina, and the two churches flanking Trajan’s column, Santissimo Nome di Maria and Santa Maria di Loreto. The design is similar to one drawn by James Hakewill in 1817, Rome. Temple of Peace from the Orti Farnesina (British School at Rome Library) which Turner would have undoubtedly known from his work on Hakewill’s Picturesque Tour, just before his 1819 trip to Rome.2
Like many pages within this sketchbook, Turner has executed the drawing in pencil over a grey washed background. Brief highlights have been added with small touches of white gouache. Related coloured views can be found on other pages (see Tate D16346, D16356, D16369; Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 20, 30, 42).
1
Finberg 1909, p.563.
2
Tony Cubberley and Luke Herrmann, Twilight of the Grand Tour: A Catalogue of the Drawings by James Hakewill in the British School at Rome Library, Rome 1992, no.3.20, p.201 reproduced.
Verso:
Blank except for traces of grey watercolour wash; stamped in black ‘CLXXXIX 53’ centre left.

Nicola Moorby
July 2009

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