Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Temple of Clitumnus with the Inscription on the Frieze; and Views of the Source of the Clitunno and San Giacomo


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 110 x 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXVII 37

Catalogue entry

One of the most celebrated ancient monuments to be found outside of Rome was the Temple of Clitumnus (Tempietto sul Clitunno), a small structure located on the road between Foligno and Spoleto in Umbria, dedicated to the eponymous river. This page contains sketches related to the temple and the surrounding landscape.
The greater part of the page is devoted to the façade of the temple, with detailed studies of the Corinthian columns and the triangular pediment decorated with bas-reliefs. Turner has also copied the words of the Latin inscription which runs along the frieze above the portico. His transcription of the words (see above) is only slightly inaccurate. The original reads ‘+ SCS DEVS ANGELORVM QUI FECIT RESURRECTIONEM +’ [Holy is the God of the Angels who made the Resurrection]. For a general discussion of the temple see folio 37 verso (D14725).
The artist has also used the sketchbook held vertically as a notebook to draw two views of the landscape nearby. The uppermost sketch shows the temple and the ruins of the hillside fortress of Pissignano from the Fonti di Clitunno, the source of the river which is found at a point approximately three quarters of a mile to the south. Meanwhile the lower sketch shows a view from the other direction of the small village of San Giacomo, a frazione of Spoleto approximately three miles south of the Temple. Turner’s inscription ‘S Jacamo’ is a phonetic attempt at spelling the unfamiliar Italian place name.

Nicola Moorby
November 2008

Read full Catalogue entry

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