Joseph Mallord William Turner

Narni from the East


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

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 110 x 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXVII 58 a

Catalogue entry

Following the Via Flaminia south-west from Terni, the next place of interest on the route to Rome is Narni, a small hilltop town approximately seven miles away. This sketch shows Turner’s first clear view of the skyline of the town from the east. Amidst the visible landmarks are the bell-towers of the Cathedral (Il Duomo) and the Church of San Domenico whilst the structure situated at a lower point beneath the town is the castle and Church of San Girolamo. On the far left-hand side, at the highest point stands the Rocca Albornoz, a fourteenth-century fortress built to defend the papacy’s control within Umbria. John Chetwode Eustace described the ‘romantic appearance’ of Narni in A Classical Tour Through Italy, first published 1813:
Its walls and towers spread along the uneven summit, sometimes concealed in groves or cypress, ilex and laurel, and sometimes emerging from the shade, and rising above their waving tops; delightful views of the vales, towns, rivers and mountains, opening here and there unexpectedly on the eye; a certain loneliness and silence, even in the streets; the consequence and sad memorial of ages of revolution, disaster, and suffering, are all features pleasing and impressive.1
In the top right-hand corner of the page is a separate sketch of the approach towards the Porta Ternana on the eastern side of the town. The view continues on the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 59 (D14767).

Nicola Moorby
November 2008

John Chetwode Eustace, A Classical Tour Through Italy, London 1815, vol.I, p.335.

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