Joseph Mallord William Turner Three Sketches of Classical Remains, ? Including the So-Called Villa of Cicero at Formia 1819

Artwork details

Artist
Title
Three Sketches of Classical Remains, ? Including the So-Called Villa of Cicero at Formia
From Gandolfo to Naples Sketchbook
Turner Bequest CLXXXIV
Date 1819
Medium Graphite on paper
Dimensions Support: 197 x 122 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D15611
Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 28
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Catalogue entry

This page contains three distinct sketches, the subjects of which have not been conclusively identified but which perhaps depict classical remains in Formia, a town on the Tyrrhenian coast formerly comprised of the villages of Castellone and Mola di Gaeta. In his travel guide, A Classical Tour Through Italy and Sicily, published 1819, Turner’s patron Sir Richard Colt Hoare documented that this part of the coastline revealed ‘an uninterrupted succession of antiquities’, including the ruins of several Roman villas.1 The tower in the central study, for example, may represent the so-called Villa of Cicero (present-day Villa Rubina), which can be found overlooking the Bay of Gaeta near the ruined port of Caposele.
The uppermost view appears to depict a bridge or road amidst a landscape with a large commemorative monument from which Turner has partially recorded a Latin inscription. Further transcriptions from classical statues or tombs can be seen in the middle sketch.

Nicola Moorby
April 2010

1
Sir Richard Colt Hoare, A Classical Tour in Italy and Sicily, London 1819, vol.I, p.118.

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