Joseph Mallord William Turner

Buildings and a Fountain; ?Terni


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 110 x 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXVII 45

Catalogue entry

This sketch represents an Italian street or piazza observed by Turner en routeto Rome from Ancona. Despite the wealth of detail recorded by the artist, including the elaborate baroque façade of the principal building, the fountain and the distant line of mountains, the subject has yet to be identified. However, it is highly likely that it depicts part of Terni, an Umbrian town approximately eighteen miles south of Spoleto. The adjacent views within the sketchbook depict geographical locations on either side of the town, for example the Pass of the Somma, see folios 43 verso–44 (D14737–8) and Lake Piediluco and the Cascata della Marmore, see folios 45 verso–57 (D14741–D14763). Terni was transformed into a major industrial centre during the second half of the nineteenth century. Furthermore, around eighty per cent of the town was destroyed by Allied bombing during the Second World War.1 If this view therefore does indeed depict Terni, it is entirely possible that the buildings recorded by Turner now no longer survive.

Nicola Moorby
November 2008

Ros Belford, Martin Dunford, Celia Woolfrey et al, Rough Guide to Italy, New York, London and Delhi 2007, 8th edition, p.669.

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