Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Capriccio with the Dome of St Peter’s, Rome, Seen through a Ruined Triumphal Arch


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 435 × 580 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLXXX 18

Catalogue entry

This is an altogether unusual sheet, which Finberg listed as ‘doubtful’. The treatment of the distant buildings may be compared with copies after John Robert Cozens (1752–1797) made in the 1790s, hence the suggested date of c.1797; but the arch (an imaginary, Adam-esque one unlike Roman triumphal arches) seems to relate to Turner’s perspective drawings of about 1810 (Turner Bequest CXCV), with which this sheet should possibly be grouped.
C.F. Bell went so far as to suggest that the artist was not Turner at all but Charles-Louis Clérisseau (1721–1820). (For copies of subjects of classical ruins which may be connected with Clérisseau see under D36535; Turner Bequest CCCLXXV 14). However, although the total effect of the work is uncharacteristic, in its drawing and handling of detail it is clearly by Turner.
Technical notes:
There are paints trials in the left margin.
Blank; not stamped.

Andrew Wilton
April 2012

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