Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
View of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Rome, from the Palatine Hill 1819
Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 39
Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 39
Pencil, gouache, watercolour and grey watercolour wash on white wove ‘Whatman’ paper, 229 x 367 mm
Stamped in black ‘CLXXXIX 39’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CLXXXIX 39’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
National Gallery, London, various dates to at least 1904 (598).
Display of Watercolours from the Turner Bequest, lent from the British Museum, National Gallery, Millbank, Tate Gallery, London 1931–March 1934 (no catalogue).
Twee Eeuwen Engelsche Kunst, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, July–October 1936 (236).
[Display of Watercolours], National Gallery, London, December 1938–September 1939 (no catalogue).
La Peinture anglaise: XVIIIe & XIXe siècles, Louvre, Paris, February–August 1938 (238).
Eight Centuries of Landscape and Natural History in European Water-colour 1180 – 1920, British Museum, London, April 1958 (no number).
Turner 1775–1851, Royal Academy, London, November 1974–March 1975 (225, as ‘Rome: The Church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo’).
Turner Watercolors: An Exhibition of Works Loaned by The Trustees of the British Museum, International Exhibitions Foundation tour, Cleveland Museum of Art, September–November 1977, Detroit Institute of Arts, December 1977–February 1978, Philadelphia Museum of Art, March–April 1978 (12, reproduced in colour).
Turner Abroad: Watercolours from the Turner Bequest Loaned by the British Museum, Tate Gallery, London, June–December 1983 (no catalogue).
Summer Miscellany: Watercolours from the Turner Bequest, Tate Gallery, London, July–October 1988 (no catalogue).
The Great Age of British Watercolours, 1750–1880, Royal Academy of Arts, London, January–April 1993, National Gallery of Art, Washington, May–July 1993 (289, reproduced in colour).
J.M.W. Turner, National Gallery of Art, Washington, October 2007–January 2008, Dallas Museum of Art, February–May 2008, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, June–September 2008 (91, reproduced in colour).
Philip Gilbert Hamerton, The Life of J. M. W. Turner, R.A., London 1879, reproduced p.220, as ‘Rome, Church and Convent of the Quattro Coronati’.
Sir Walter Armstrong, Turner, London and New York 1902, reproduced fig.47 opposite p.86, as ‘Rome; Church and Convent of SS. Giovanni e Paulo’.
E.T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn (eds.), Library Edition: The Works of John Ruskin: Volume XIII: Turner: The Harbours of England; Catalogues and Notes, London 1904, no.598, pp.299, frame no.109, drawing no.229, 636, as ‘Rome. Church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo’.
A.J. Finberg, A Complete Inventory of the Drawings of the Turner Bequest, London 1909, vol.I, p.563, as ‘Church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo. Mixed pure and body colour. 598, N.G.’.
C[harles] Lewis Hind, Turner’s Golden Visions, London and Edinburgh 1910, p.117, reproduced in colour, p.116 pl.15, as ‘Church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo’.
D[ugald] S[utherland] MacColl, National Gallery, Millbank: Catalogue: Turner Collection, London 1920, p.88.
Thomas Ashby, Turner’s Visions of Rome, London and New York 1925, p.27, reproduced in colour pl.20 between pp.22–3, as ‘Church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo’.
Douglas Cooper, William Turner 1775–1851, Paris 1949, reproduced p.41, as ‘Eglise de Saint-Jean et Saint-Paul a Rome’.
Martin Butlin, Andrew Wilton and John Gage, Turner 1775–1851, exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy, London 1974, no.225, p.88, as ‘Rome: the Church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo’.
Andrew Wilton, Turner Watercolors: An Exhibition of Works Loaned by The Trustees of the British Museum, exhibition catalogue, Cleveland Museum of Art 1977, no.12, p.31, reproduced in colour as ‘Rome: The Church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo’.
Andrew Wilton, Turner Abroad: France; Italy; Germany; Switzerland, London 1982, pp.43–4, reproduced in colour, p. pl.37, as ‘Rome: the Church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo’.
Cecilia Powell, ‘Turner on Classic Ground: His Visits to Central and Southern Italy and Related Paintings and Drawings’, unpublished Ph.D thesis, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London 1984, p.223.
Cecilia Powell, Turner in the South: Rome, Naples, Florence, New Haven and London 1987, p.106 note 9.
Andrew Wilton and Anne Lyles, The Great Age of British Watercolours, 1750–1880, exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy of Arts, London 1993, p.83, no.289 reproduced in colour pl.90, as ‘Rome: The Church of SS Giovanni e Paolo’.
Ian Warrell (ed.), Franklin Kelly and others, J.M.W. Turner, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery of Art, Washington 2007, no.91, pp.129, 132, reproduced in colour, as ‘Rome: The Church of SS Giovanni e Paolo, from the Palatine’.
The Palatine Hill was one of the most popular vantage points in Rome and Turner made a large number of studies recording views of the city seen in all directions. This coloured sketch depicts the panoramic prospect seen from the eastern side, near the Domus Augustana, looking towards the Caelian Hill. The central focus of the picture is the rounded apse and bell-tower of the Church of San Giovanni e Paolo, whilst to the right are surviving fragments of the Claudian Aqueduct and the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano. On the left is part of the ruins of the Palatine and in the background, the apse of Santi Quatro Coronati. As Turner was probably well aware, the vista was a favourite motif for topographical artists.1 Similar related views can be found on other pages within this sketchbooks (see D16345, D16371, D16384; CLXXXIX 19, 43a, 54a). Another view of San Giovanni e Paolo seen from a more southerly location also appears in the bottom right-hand corner of another sheet (see D16348; Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 22). The large number of versions of the subject suggest that he was seriously considering its suitability for a finished picture in oil or watercolour.
Like many pages within this sketchbook, the composition has been executed over a washed grey background. Turner first drew the outline in pencil before extensively working up the view with watercolour. He varied his application of paint considerably across the work, utilising both wet and dry pigment. The buildings and the mountains, for example, have been described carefully with tonal modulations, whilst for the textured foliage in the foreground the brushwork is looser, freerer and more energetic. Highlights were created with small touches of white gouache, particularly effective for the distant snow-topped mountains and the large marble statues along the top of the façade of San Giovanni in Laterano. Turner has also used gouache within the sky where he has achieved a subtle herringbone effect by washing a thin, liquid layer of blue swiftly across the grey sheet and lifting the wet paint to create a sense of pattern and movement.
See for example Francis Towne, SS Giovanni e Paolo, Rome 1780 (British Museum, London), reproduced in Wilton and Lyles 1993, p.83, fig.21, and Francois-Marius Granet, Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Rome (Musée Granet, Aix-en-Provence), reproduced in Anna Ottani Cavina, Un Paese Incantato: Italia Dipinta da Thomas Jones a Corot, exhibition catalogue, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Parigi and Palazzo Te, Mantova, Italy 2001, under no.92, p.143.
Blank; inscribed by an unknown hand in pencil ‘12’ centre, parallel with right-hand edge, and stamped in black ‘CLXXXIX 39’ bottom right.
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