Joseph Mallord William Turner

View of the Western Edge of Narni, with the Monument and Inscription Commemorating the Building of the Mountain Road by Pope Pius VI

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: 110 x 186 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D14769
Turner Bequest CLXXVII 60

Catalogue entry

The town of Narni occupies the crest of a hill approximately seven miles south-west of Terni, and fifty miles north of Rome. As was often the case during Turner’s travels, his mode of travelling did not give him much opportunity to stop and explore the centre of the town. The carriage simply followed a predetermined course in an anti-clockwise direction from east to south-west around the walled perimeter. Consequently Turner’s sketches of Narni only relate to views or subjects visible from the road such as the edges of the town and the Bridge of Augustus in the gorge below.
The sketch on the right-hand side of this page depicts the western side of Narni, from a point near the Porta Pietra. The buttresses of the town walls are just visible on the far right-hand side, and the tower which is the tallest point of the skyline is the Torre Campanaria, the campanile of the cathedral. Amidst the hills in the background is the monastery of San Cassiano. In the foreground on the left is part of a marble monument which stands on the side of the road to Rome, the present-day Via Vittorio Emanuele. Along the top of the page Turner has transcribed the Latin inscription from the monument, which commemorates the building of the mountain road from Narni by Pope Pius VI in 1791. The full text is as follows:
ANNO MDCCLXXXXI | HONORI. D. N. PII. VI. PONT. MAX. RESTITVTORIS. FELICIVM. SAECVLORVM | ORDO. ET. POPVLVS. NARNIENSIVM | EX. AVCTORITATE. PHILIPPI. CARANDINI. CARD. PRAEF. SAC. CONSILI. SVMPT. MINVEND | INSTANTIAQVE. FABRICI. SCEBERAS. TESTAFERRATAE PRAEF. I. D. | ITER. IN. CLIVO. NOVVM. A. PROVIDENTISSIMO PRINCIPE. DEMONSTRATVM | VIA VETFRI. RELICTA. QVAE. COMMEANTES. PRAERVPTO. DORSO. ASPERA. DETERREBAT | PER. EXCISAS. RVPES. SVSPEN. SASQVE. ARCVBVS. MOLES. APERIENDVM. CVRAVIT.
Further sketches from a similar viewpoint on the western side of the town can be found on folios 62 verso, 69 verso and 70 (D14774, D14788 and D14789).
On the left-hand side of the page is part of the view of Narni from the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 59 verso (D14769). The sketch depicts the valley to the east of the town with the River Nera snaking into the distance. Today the picturesque beauty of the view has been completely transformed by the industrialisation of the area around the new town of Narni Scalo.

Nicola Moorby
November 2008

Read full Catalogue entry

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