Joseph Mallord William Turner

?The Tomb of Cicero, outside of Formia; and Four Distant Views of Castellonorato


View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 197 x 122 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 29

Catalogue entry

This page contains a series of swift sketches representing views on the southward road to Naples, on the Tyrrhenian coast near Formia. The shaky, uncertain appearance of Turner’s draughtsmanship indicates that the artist was working from a moving carriage.1 Finberg suggested that the structure visible uppermost sketch is the so-called Tomb of Cicero, a monument found by the side of the Via Appia on the approach to Formia.2 Clearer studies of the ruin can be seen in the Vatican Fragments sketchbook (Tate D15160–D15161; Turner Bequest CLXXX 28a–9).
The subject of the remaining sketches on this page is Castellonorato, a hill-top village in the Arunci mountains, approximately four miles east of Formia. In four successively closer views Turner has depicted the distant village as seen from the Via Appia, with the prominent silhouette of the tower of Caetani fortress.
Amidst the landscape views, Turner has also sketched several local figures such as peasant women or contadine, carrying bundles and baskets on their heads. He has made notes on the bright colours of their costume.

Nicola Moorby
April 2010

Powell 1987, p.79.
Finberg 1909, p.543.

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like