Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 50 Verso:
Cascata delle Marmore and the Valley of the Nar 1819
Turner Bequest CLXXVII 50 a
Turner Bequest CLXXVII 50 a
Pencil on white wove paper, 110 x 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
A.J. Finberg, A Complete Inventory of the Drawings of the Turner Bequest, London 1909, vol.I, p.522, as ‘Near Narni (?)’.
Cecilia Powell, ‘Turner on Classic Ground: His Visits to Central and Southern Italy and Related Paintings and Drawings’, unpublished Ph.D thesis, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London 1984, pp. 101, 469 note 143.
Cecilia Powell, Turner in the South: Rome, Naples, Florence, New Haven and London 1987, p.34.
James Hamilton, Nicola Moorby, Christopher Baker and others, Turner e l’Italia, exhibition catalogue, Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara 2008, pp.44, 90 note 29.
James Hamilton, Nicola Moorby, Christopher Baker and others, Turner & Italy, exhibition catalogue, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh 2009, pp.42, 150–1 note 29.
At Terni, Turner made a short detour from his route in order to visit the nearby Falls of Terni, or Cascata delle Marmore, an impressive waterfall created by the descent of the River Velino into the valley below. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it represented one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy outside of Rome. 1 The cascading waters could be viewed from several different locations and in 1781, Pope Pius VI had ordered two small stone huts to be built to facilitate the increasing numbers of visitors to the site. One of these shelters, the Belvedere Inferiore, allowed a vista of the entire spectacle from the bottom, whilst the other, the Belvedere Superiore was situated on a projecting spur of rock, almost level with the brink of the summit. Both could be reached by the road from Terni which diverged at the small village of Papigno. In Turner’s time the Papal Government exercised a monopoly on tourist guides and vehicle hire so that unless visitors were prepared to walk the distance from Terni, they were obliged to pay to access the site.2
This inverted sketch depicts the waterfall from a point near the top, above the Belvedere Superiore. On the right is the steep drop of the first stage of the Falls with the water pooling at the edge of the second stage below. Turner has depicted the force of the plunging torrent with a few faint and sketchy lines and blank areas to suggest the white mass of water and spray. In the background is the view looking north-east towards the Valley of the Nar stretching into the distance beyond. Similar views can be found on folios 45 verso–46, 46 verso and 51 verso (D14741–2, D14743 and D14753). For a full discussion of the Falls see folio 55 verso (D14760).
Today the waters are diverted for use in a hydroelectric power plant and so the falls are only ‘turned on’ intermittently for the benefit of tourists, see http://www
.marmore, accessed November 2008. .it /document .php ?id =14
Benjamin Colbert, Shelley’s Eye: Travel Writing and Aesthetic Vision, London 2005, pp.161–2.
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