J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

Joseph Mallord William Turner Three Sketches of Classical Remains, ? Including the So-Called Villa of Cicero at Formia 1819

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 29 Recto:
Three Sketches of Classical Remains, ? Including the So-Called Villa of Cicero at Formia 1819
D15611
Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 28
Pencil on white wove paper, 197 x 122 mm
Inscribed by the artist in pencil ‘PHIL II . CATII | [?Reggamenti]’ bottom centre of top sketch, and ‘LDRVTTIOLE AFLAVIUS’ bottom right of middle sketch
Inscribed by ?John Ruskin in blue ink ‘281’ top right, ascending right-hand edge and ‘28’ top left, ascending left-hand edge
Stamped in black ‘CLXXXIV 28’ top right, ascending right-hand edge
 
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This page contains three distinct sketches, the subjects of which have not been conclusively identified but which perhaps depict classical remains in Formia, a town on the Tyrrhenian coast formerly comprised of the villages of Castellone and Mola di Gaeta. In his travel guide, A Classical Tour Through Italy and Sicily, published 1819, Turner’s patron Sir Richard Colt Hoare documented that this part of the coastline revealed ‘an uninterrupted succession of antiquities’, including the ruins of several Roman villas.1 The tower in the central study, for example, may represent the so-called Villa of Cicero (present-day Villa Rubina), which can be found overlooking the Bay of Gaeta near the ruined port of Caposele.
The uppermost view appears to depict a bridge or road amidst a landscape with a large commemorative monument from which Turner has partially recorded a Latin inscription. Further transcriptions from classical statues or tombs can be seen in the middle sketch.

Nicola Moorby
April 2010

1
Sir Richard Colt Hoare, A Classical Tour in Italy and Sicily, London 1819, vol.I, p.118.

How to cite

Nicola Moorby, ‘Three Sketches of Classical Remains, ? Including the So-Called Villa of Cicero at Formia 1819 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, April 2010, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-three-sketches-of-classical-remains--including-the-so-called-r1138073, accessed 21 December 2014.