Joseph Mallord William Turner

Four Views of Pompeii, Including the Bakery of A. Cossius Libanus, and a Street Scene near the House of Pansa

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: 113 x 189 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D15756
Turner Bequest CLXXXV 10 a

Catalogue entry

During his sojourn in Naples in the autumn of 1819, Turner visited the famous archeological site of Pompeii. At this time the greatest part of the excavations could be found on the western side of the city and this page contains four sketches of different parts of the ruins. They appear to trace Turner’s progression from the Porta Ercolano (Herculaneum Gate) in the north-west perimeter of the walls, south-east down the Via Consolare towards the Forum.

The scene in the top left-hand corner appears to depict the peristyle and other parts of the large Casa delle Vestali (House of the Vestals), which lies on the Via Consolare, just east of Porta Ercolano.1 The property contains a number of traces of coloured plaster and mosaic work which Turner has noted within his drawing. The building was damaged by a bomb during the Second World War and consequently looks different today. The subject of the top right sketch is not conclusively identified although it may record the single Ionic column seen within a crossroads stable block on the Via Consolare, very near the House of the Vestals.2
The study in the bottom left-hand corner represents one of the numerous bakeries in Pompeii complete with three mill-stones and a wood-burning oven with a smoke funnel.3 The bakery stands adjacent to the House of A. Cossius Libanus (also known as the Casa di Sallustio or House of Sallust) on Via Consolare, see folio 11 (D15757).
The scene in the bottom right-hand corner depicts a public fountain which can be found at the junction of two streets (Vicolo di Modesto and Via Consolare) near the Casa di Pansa (House of Pansa).4 The fountain is decorated with the bas-relief of an eagle with an animal in its talons. Beyond are the remains of the ‘Taberna Fortunata’, a shop serving hot and cold food which included a counter with holes for amphorae and other vessels.5 At the top of the sketch Turner has partially transcribed the Latin inscription from the wall outside of the shop, ‘CI.P.II.VIRI’. To the right is the entrance to a bakery, and just visible to the left is the sales counter of another shop.6 This vista looking north towards the distant silhouette of Vesuvius was a popular subject for nineteenth-century topographic artists.7

Nicola Moorby
September 2010

1
Pompeii site number VI.1.6–8, 24–26.
2
VI.1.13.
3
VI.2.6. Composition is the same as that of the plate etched by Pinelli of Rome, ‘Interior of a Bakers Shop’ in Pompeii, Illustrated with Picturesque Views, Engraved by W.B. Cooke, from the Original Drawings of Liet. Col. Cockburn, of the Royal Artillery, vol.II, London 1827, between pp.10–11.
4
In the quarter known as Regio VI.
5
The building number is VI.3.18–20.
6
VI.4.8.
7
See the same view in an engraving by Charles Heath, ‘Pompeii. Meeting of Two Streets in Triviis, at the House of Pansa’, published March 1819, in Sir William Gell and Joseph Gandy, Pompeiana: The Topography, Edifices, and Ornaments of Pompeii, London 1824, vol.II, pl.22, between pp.168–9. Also compare the chromolithograph after C. Hullmandel, ‘Street Scene with a Fountain, near the House of Pansa’, in Cockburn 1827, vol.II, between pp.8–9.

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