Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Ponte Salario, Rome 1819
Pencil on white wove paper, 255 x 404 mm
This page contains a faint outline sketch depicting Ponte Salario, a bridge in the Roman Campagna to the north of Rome which carried the ancient highway of the Via Salaria (Salt Road) across the River Aniene, close to where it joins the River Tiber.1 As this study partially records, the bridge comprised one large central arch with two smaller side arches, whilst the northern end of the crossing (right) was dominated by a defensive tower. The bridge was destroyed in 1867 by Papal and French troops defending Rome against Giuseppe Garibaldi. Turner made more detailed sketches of the structure (see D41482, Turner Bequest verso of CLXXXVII 34) and it also features in a number of views of the Campagna, (see D16122, D16125, D16126; Turner Bequest CLXXXVII 34, 37, 38). A distant study from further down-river can also be found in the Small Roman C. Studies sketchbook (see Tate D16459; CXC 45).
The Ponte Salario was one of a number of bridges and ancient monuments in the Roman Campagna which had become a popular subject for topographical artists. Turner’s sketches recall similar studies by Claude Lorrain,2 and Italian vedutisti, Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778 )3 and Giuseppe Vasi (1710–1782).4 Turner has repeated a similar compositional formula of depicting the bridge at an oblique angle so that the visual impact of arches and tower is maximised.
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
See A.J. Finberg, A Complete Inventory of the Drawings of the Turner Bequest, London 1909, vol.I, p.556.