Joseph Mallord William Turner

Aosta: The Arch of Augustus from the Via Sant’Anselmo


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Chalk, graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 211 × 282 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXXIV 9

Catalogue entry

For Turner’s visit to Aosta in 1802 see Introduction to the sketchbook. Turner’s label for this drawing must be the one inscribed ‘Ville de Aoust avec le Pte’ [sic].
Turner was impressed with the Roman architecture of Aosta, the nearest he had come thus far to classical antiquity. This is one of two drawings from this sketchbook of the Arch of Augustus, built in 25 B.C. on the eastern edge of the Roman city between the old bridge and the Porta Praetoria on the Via Sant’Anselmo. This one looks directly at the structure, with its later cross suspended in the opening (still there today); the other (D04502; Turner Bequest LXXIV 10) is taken from near the tiled building with sun blinds seen here on the right, looking towards the wooded slopes outside the city to the south, with the gate on the left. In his catalogue notes for Marlborough House, John Ruskin commented: ‘Turner has been rather puzzled by the Swiss cottages, which were not reconcilable with academical rules of architecture. He sits down to his triumphal arch with great zeal, and a satisfied conscience.’1
Cook and Wedderburn 1904, p.263; Ruskin on Pictures; Cook 1902, pp.224–5.
Blank, inscribed perhaps by a later hand in pencil ‘5’

David Blayney Brown
September 2011

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