Joseph Mallord William Turner

View of Tivoli, with the So-Called Tempio della Tosse


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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 200 x 253 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXIII 13

Catalogue entry

The subject of this drawing is a view of Tivoli which Thomas Ashby identified as being ‘taken on the steep high road up to the town’.1 The circular structure on the right-hand side is the so-called Tempio della Tosse (Temple of the Cough), believed to be the vestibule of a Roman villa. The ruin is situated near the Santuario di Ercole Vincitore (Sanctuary of Hercules Victor), formerly known as the Villa of Maecenas, the tower of which can be seen on the far left-hand side. The arcade visible behind the Tempio to the right is part of the substructures supporting the terrace of the sixteenth-century Villa d’Este, whilst to the left is the campanile of the Cathedral (Duomo) of San Lorenzo. Turner has included a flurry of incidental detail in the foreground, including a horse in harness, drinking from a fountain, and a flock of sheep. Like many drawings within this sketchbook, the composition has been executed over a washed grey background. Turner has created highlights by rubbing or lifting out the wash to reveal the white paper beneath.
The Tempio della Tosse was a popular artistic motif during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the most famous example being an etching by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778), Veduta del Tempio, detta della Tosse for the Vedute di Roma.2 As a young man, Turner had made a watercolour copy of an image featuring the ruin, see Dr Monro’s Album of Italian Views (Tate D36448; Turner Bequest CCCLXXIII 35). Further studies dating from the 1819 tour can be found on folios 12 and 14 (D15478 and D15480).
Ashby 1914, p.247.
Luigi Ficacci, Piranesi: The Complete Etchings, Köln and London 2000, no.940, p.723, reproduced.
Blank, except for traces of grey watercolour wash
Inscribed by ?John Ruskin in red ink ‘357’ bottom left, and by an unknown hand in pencil ‘84’ centre

Nicola Moorby
February 2010

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