Joseph Mallord William Turner

Notes by Turner on Travelling in Italy


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

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Pen and ink on paper
Support: 88 x 114 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXI 28

Catalogue entry

This page contains inscriptions by Turner on Italy, possibly notes derived from a travel guide, or memoranda jotted down in conversation with James Hakewill (see the introduction to the sketchbook). The text reads as follows:
Sutri from Terni to Rieti | Bracciano – | Ostia – | from Tivoli to St. Giorgio | Autium (Capo d’Arizo) | go up to La Cervara on the road from | Tivoli to Subiaco from Subiaco to | Paliagno & Palestrina | the valley from Sora up to Lake of | Avezzano – | Teano near road from | Rome to Naples | Benevento
As Cecilia Powell and James Hamilton have both noted, Turner’s mention here of Palestrina may represent his intention to visit this ancient city, approximately twenty miles east of Rome.1 Yet despite it forming the subject of a later finished oil painting, Palestrina – Composition, 1828 (Tate N06283),2 there are no identifiable sketches within either the 1819 or 1828 sketchbooks. It is possible that he never actually visited the place. However, there are also no known views of Subiaco despite the fact that he definitely went there at some point (as recorded in a letter by Samuel Palmer).3 Powell has suggested therefore that following Turner’s 1819 trip to Tivoli he may have taken a circular route back to Rome by way of both Subiaco and Palestrina, in accordance with his notes on this page.4 For a further discussion see the introduction to the Tivoli and Rome sketchbook (Tate; Turner Bequest CLXXIX).

Nicola Moorby
March 2010

Powell 1984, p.331 note 132 and Hamilton 2009, p.69.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, no.295.
See a letter by Samuel Palmer which reads ‘Turner said he did not like Subiaco which is generally reckoned a fine place’, quoted in Powell 1984, p.331.

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