Joseph Mallord William Turner The Eastern Bank of the Tiber, Rome, with the Ponte Rotto, Cloaca Maxima, Temple of Hercules and Santa Maria in Cosmedin 1819

Artwork details

The Eastern Bank of the Tiber, Rome, with the Ponte Rotto, Cloaca Maxima, Temple of Hercules and Santa Maria in Cosmedin
From St Peter's Sketchbook
Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII
Date 1819
Medium Graphite on paper
Dimensions Support: 114 x 189 mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII 52
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Catalogue entry

A view of the eastern bank of the River Tiber from one side of the Ponte Rotto (formerly the Pons Aemilius), an ancient ruined stone bridge at the southernmost tip of the Isola Tiberina. Today the bridge has just one isolated arch remaining in the centre of the river, hence its name which literally translates as ‘Broken Bridge’. However, in Turner’s day there were three linked to the western bank and the Trastevere district. For a detailed sketch see folio 53 verso (D16250; Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII 52a).
This section of the river is particularly rich in ancient monuments. Structures visible in Turner’s sketch include (from left to right): the surviving pillars and arches of the Ponte Rotto; a riverside mill and landing beach with a boat in front; the circular Temple of Hercules Victor (sometimes called the Temple of Vesta or the Church of Santa Maria del Sole); the arched mouth of the Cloaca Maxima or Great Sewer beneath; the ruins of the Palatine on the hill beyond; and on the far right the Baroque façade and Romanesque campanile of the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. The view today is significantly changed owing to the construction of the embankment and Lungotevere at the end of the nineteenth century.1 Furthermore, between 1894–99 the eighteenth-century façade of Santa Maria in Cosmedin was stripped back to reveal the medieval front in evidence today.
The view can be compared to a drawing by James Hakewill, Rome. View from the Convent of S. Bartolomeo looking to the Ponte Rotto, the Temple of Vesta etc. c.1817 (British School at Rome Library) which records the same stretch of river from the other side of the Ponte Rotto.2

Nicola Moorby
September 2008

Tony Cubberley and Luke Herrmann, Twilight of the Grand Tour: A Catalogue of the drawings by James Hakewill in the British School at Rome Library, Rome 1992, p.204.
Ibid., no.3.23, reproduced p.204.

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