Joseph Mallord William Turner

View of St Peter’s and the Janiculum Hill from the Palatine Hill, Rome

1819

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 229 x 267 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D40050

Catalogue entry

The Palatine Hill was one of the most popular vantage points in Rome and Turner made a large number of studies from the location, recording prospects of the city seen in all directions. This sketch depicts a view from the south-eastern side of the hill, at a point near the Domus Augustana (part of the Palace of Domitian), looking west towards the River Tiber and Trastevere. Visible landmarks include, from left to right: the churches of Trastevere including the pointed bell-tower of San Crisogono; the Janiculum Hill crowned by trees; in the middle distance, the Isola Tiberina with the Ponte Rotto and the Ponte Cestio; and, rising in the distance above the rest of the city, the unmistakeable silhouette of the dome of St Peter’s. In the foreground of the composition can be seen the the buildings of the Forum Boarium, including the circular Temple of Hercules Victor, the four-sided Arch of Janus and the bell-tower of San Giorgio in Velabro.
Further related sketches can be found on another sheet within this sketchbook (see D16386; Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 55a), in the Small Roman C. Studies sketchbook (see Tate D16418–D16419; Turner Bequest CXC 16a–17), and in the Albano, Nemi, Rome sketchbook (see Tate D15392–D15393 and D15440–D15441; Turner Bequest CLXXXII 50a–1 and 74a–5). The depicted panorama is also similar to that in a drawing by James Hakewill, Rome, Ruins of the Palace of the Caesars on the Palatine Hill 1817 (British School at Rome), which Turner would almost certainly have known from collaborating with the artist on Hakewill’s Picturesque Views of Italy in 1818–19.1
The paper on this page has suffered from some discolouration and ink has bled through from the recto (D16369; Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 42).

Nicola Moorby
October 2009

1
See 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.3.11, p.189 reproduced.

Read full Catalogue entry

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