Joseph Mallord William Turner

Four Landscape Sketches of the Road between Albano and Ariccia

1819

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 189 x 113 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D15454
Turner Bequest CLXXXII 82

Catalogue entry

The four sketches on this page depict different points along the road between Albano and Ariccia, with the geographical progression from the bottom to the top of the page.
The main focus of the sketch at the bottom is the so-called Tomb of Pompey, or Ascanius, a three-storey structure punctuated by square blocks which lies on the Via Appia near the entrance to Albano. Andrew Lumisden described it in 1812 as ‘the remains of a magnificent mausoleum ... incrusted with marble, and each story ornamented with columns, no doubt of different orders. Though robbed of these columns and the incrustation, yet the bells, or praecinationes of these stories, and the marble blocks to which they were fixed still remain, and point out its former state’.1 The tomb was recorded by Piranesi in his Antichità d’Albano e di Castel Gandolfo 1764,2 and in a 1796 drawing by Carlo Labruzzi, the artist who accompanied Richard Colt Hoare on his journey through Italy in 1789.3 Here Turner has drawn it twice, from different sides. See also folio 2 (D15298).
The scene second from bottom depicts the approach to the so-called Tomb of the Horatii and Curiatii, near the Church of Santa Maria della Stella on the edge of Albano towards Ariccia. Once comprised of five conical towers on a square peperino base, the tomb was popularly attributed to the mythical brothers of the Horatii and Curiatti who fought each other to avoid war between Rome and Alba Longa, although other scholars have ascribed it to Pompey the Great, to Aruns, son of Porsena, or to the Arruntii family of Albano.4 The upper left corner of the sketch beneath also contains a study of one of the two surviving cones. Further sketches can be found in the Naples, Paestum, Rome sketchbook (see Tate D16030; Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 61a). The unusual architectural design of the tomb and the appearance of crumbling ruins overrun with weeds and shrubs made it an attractive motif for artists and Turner may have been familiar with images of it by James Hakewill (1778–1843) and Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778).5 It was also the subject of a couple of copies, probably after John Robert Cozens (1752–1797), made by Turner and Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) for Dr Monro’s Album of Italian Views, 1794–6 (see Tate D36420 and D36440; Turner Bequest CCCLXXIII 7 and 27).

Nicola Moorby
May 2008

1
Andrew Lumisden, Remarks on the Antiquities of Rome and Its Environs, London 1812 pp.454–5.
2
Luigi Ficacci, Piranesi: The Complete Etchings, Köln and London 2000, no.564, reproduced p.457.
3
Reproduced www.romeartlover.it/Albano, accessed May 2008.
4
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, p.240.
5
James Hakewill, Tomb of Curiatii at Albano 1817 (British School at Rome Library), see Cubberley and Herrmann 1992, no.5.15, p.240 reproduced; Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Tomb of the three Curiatii brothers in Albano (Sepolcro delle tre fratelli Curiatii in Albano) 1765, etching from Le Antichità Romane.
6
See Cubberley and Herrman 1992, no.5.13, p.238 reproduced.

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