Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Bridge of Augustus or Tiberius on the River Marecchia at Rimini

1819

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 111 x 184 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D14592
Turner Bequest CLXXVI 53 a

Catalogue entry

Cecilia Powell recognised the subject as the well-preserved stone Roman Bridge of Augustus (or Tiberius) on the River Marecchia at Rimini.1 The prospect remains recognisable looking west from the Via Bastioni Settentrionali, although the particular buildings at the left do not survive. The features between the arches are decorative low-relief aedicule panels rather than the customary projecting cutwaters.
Powell has characterised the site as one of those that Turner came across simply by following the major routes through Italy and thus ‘did not have to go out of his way’ to garner a useful store of incidental subjects.2 James Hamilton has noted the ‘great care’ with which Turner recorded the city’s Roman remains;3 see the distant view of the bridge on folio 58 recto opposite, and other subjects on folios 59 verso and 60 recto and verso (D14593, D14596–D14598; Turner Bequest CLXXVI 54, 55a, 56, 56a). Folio 70 recto (D14615; CLXXVI 66) apparently shows the lighthouse beside Rimini’s harbour; see also folio 88 recto (D14649; CLXXVI 84).
Fortuitously, Turner had depicted the bridge in his youth, albeit at one remove; compare his tonal gouache and watercolour copy of a painting or print of the scene by Richard Wilson (1713–1782) in the 1796–7 Wilson sketchbook (Tate D01203–D01204; Turner Bequest XXXVII 86–87). He drew the structure again directly on his 1828–9 Italian tour, in the Rimini to Rome sketchbook (Tate D14928; Turner Bequest CLXXVIII 53a).
Powell has commented on the relatively uneventful phase of Turner’s 1819 journey between leaving Bologna and reaching Rimini (folios 43 recto–60 verso; D14566–D14598; Turner Bequest CLXXVI 39a–56a);4 for his overall route south-east between Bologna and Ancona, see the sketchbook’s Introduction.

Matthew Imms
March 2017

1
See Powell 1984, p.407.
2
Ibid., p.90; see also Powell 1987, p.24.
3
Hamilton 2009, p.42; see also Hamilton 2008, p.44.
4
See Powell 1984, pp.89–90, 465 note 98.

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