Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: Notes on Ancient Architecture

c.1808–11

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: 117 x 87 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D07972
Turner Bequest CXIV 9 a

Catalogue entry

The whole page, turned vertically, is taken up with the following notes, including a diagram:
Trajan and [?Antininous] | the only remains of Trajans building
That the Greeks always. Deviated | from the perpendicular line. the | Egyptians followd
The Tomb of Theodo[...] at | Ravenna . . the roof of one | stone . . 40 Feet diameter | with a little cross at the top
[diagram of the profile of a shallow dome surmounted by a cross]
Pediments are allowd [?as ...d] | [?honor] to Julius Cæsar
The second name in the first line is probably intended to be Antoninus, as in Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, the Roman emperor whose column in Rome Turner notes briefly on folio 4 verso (D07965); Trajan’s Column also still stands in the city, and is mentioned on folio 65 verso (D08045). The early sixth-century Mausoleum of Theodoric the Great still stands at Ravenna in north-eastern Italy,1 its drum capped by the single stone mentioned and sketched here.
The passage is part of a short sequence beginning on folio 10 recto opposite (D07973) and concluding on the recto of the present leaf (D07971). Maurice Davies was unable to identify the source of these notes ‘on ancient sculpture’,2 but they may relate to Turner’s Royal Academy perspective lectures, delivered at the Royal Academy from January 1811 onwards (see the Introduction to the sketchbook).

Matthew Imms
January 2012

1
See ‘Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna’, UNESCO World Heritage Convention, accessed 29 September 2011, http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/788.
2
Davies 1994, p.290.

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