Joseph Mallord William Turner

Frascati from the Villa Aldobrandini


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

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 113 x 189 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXII 30 a

Catalogue entry

Cecilia Powell has identified the panoramic view on this double-page spread as Frascati from the terrace of the Villa Aldobrandini (also known as the Villa Belvedere), one of the great estates built for the papal nobility during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In the foreground of the sketch are the gardens of the villa. In the middle distance are the roofs of the town below, whilst on the opposite page can be seen the Cathedral, the Basilica of St Peter the Apostle, with its two bell-towers flanking the Baroque façade, see folio 31 (D15353). In the far distance, bisected by one of the tall stone pines Turner has briefly indicated the line of the city of Rome.
Powell points out that Turner’s viewpoint is virtually the same as that chosen by James Hakewill in his view of Frascati, published in A Picturesque Tour of Italy, 1820.1 Even the cluster of Mediterranean pine trees grouped in the centre is identical. The town’s topography is somewhat different today owing to the heavy bomb damage Frascati sustained during the Second World War. Two other similar sketches can be found on folios 30 and 31 verso–32 (D15351 and D15354–D15355).

Nicola Moorby
May 2008

Engraved by James Fittler. The original drawing by James Hakewill, Frascati. View from the Terrace of the Belvedere Villa 1817, pencil on white wove paper, see 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.5.25, p.250 reproduced.

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