Joseph Mallord William Turner

View of Rome from the Palatine Hill, with the Ruins of the Palace of Septimius Severus

1819

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 113 x 189 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D15440
Turner Bequest CLXXXII 74 a

Catalogue entry

This inverted view of Rome looks south-west from the substructures of the ruined Palace of Septimius Severus on the Palatine Hill. In the distance on the right-hand side can be seen the Pyramid of Cestius and the adjacent Porta San Paolo, whilst left of centre on the horizon is the Convent of Santa Balbina on the Aventine Hill. Another gate with two towers is visible in the background on the far left, possibly the Porta Appia, also known as the Porta San Sebastiano. The vista spills over onto the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 76 (D15441; Turner Bequest CLXXXII 75). The composition is similar to a drawing by James Hakewill, Rome, Ruins of the Palace of the Caesars on the Palatine Hill, later published in a series called Eight Views of Rome, 1823.1 Unlike Hakewill, Turner has omitted the full details of the Palatine ruins in the foreground. The blank space in the bottom right-hand corner of the sketch ought to bear two more arches and a flight of steps leading down to a gate within a wall. Turner has also extended the panorama further east.
A further prospect from a similar viewpoint can be found on folios 51 verso-52 (D15393–D15394; Turner Bequest CLXXXII 50a–51) and in the Small Roman C. Studies sketchbook (Tate D16418–D16419; Turner Bequest CXC 16–17).

Nicola Moorby
May 2008

1
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, no.3.10, p.188 reproduced.

Read full Catalogue entry