Joseph Mallord William Turner

The East End of the Forum, Rome; also Sketches of Aqueducts, possibly near Porta Furba


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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 113 x 189 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXII 58

Catalogue entry

Turner thoroughly explored the Roman Forum (Campo Vaccino) and made numerous sketches from various angles. This view of the eastern end from the north-west is continued from the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 58 verso (D15406; Turner Bequest CLXXXII 57a). It shows the campanile of Santa Francesca Romana with the arches of the Colosseum beyond. On the right can be seen the Arch of Titus which in Turner’s day was not fully excavated and had accretions on either side. For a general discussion of the Forum see folio 32 (D15355).
The rest of the page contains several rapidly drawn landscape views running horizontally across with the sketchbook held in portrait format. These sketches appear to show ruins and monuments seen from a distance and Turner’s written notes beneath suggests that these could include the Roman remains of the Aqua Claudia and the sixteenth-century Aqua Felix near ‘Porta Furba’, a gate a couple of miles south-east from the Porta Maggiore where the two aqueducts once met. He also indicates the outline of distant ‘Mount Soracte’ (also known as Soratte), a mountain ridge to the north of Rome. Other inscriptions record atmospheric effects. As was often the case the Roman Campagna reminded him of the work of the eighteenth-century Welsh landscape painter, Richard Wilson (1713–1782), see folio 26 verso (D15344).
Some of the smaller landscape sketches overlap with the horizontal view of the Forum. The latter was probably the later addition, drawn as an extension to the vista on the previous page.

Nicola Moorby
May 2008

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