Joseph Mallord William Turner

Campagna of Rome, for Rogers’s ‘Italy’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite, watercolour and gouache on paper
Support: 246 × 301 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 161

Catalogue entry

This design appears as the headpiece for the thirty-first section of Roger’s Italy, entitled ‘The Campagna of Rome’.1 It was engraved by Edward Goodall, who was one of the most prolific and skilled interpreters of Turner’s designs.2 The vignette shows an empty landscape with a large tomb fragment and some quietly grazing goats in the foreground, a Roman aqueduct in the middle distance and a grey mountain dominating the background. Turner’s view provides an evocative visual counterpart to Rogers’s description of the barren Roman countryside scattered with architectural ruins, remnants of a glorious classical past:
   Once more we look, and all is still as night,
All desolate! Groves, temples, palaces,
Swept from the sight; and nothing visible,
Amid the sulphurous vapours that exhale
As from a land accurst, save here and there
An empty tomb, a fragment like the limb
Of some dismembered giant.
And on the road, where once we might have met
Cæsar and Cato, and men more than kings,
We meet, none else, the pilgrim and the beggar.
(Italy, p.157)
Rogers’s reference to ‘An empty tomb, a fragment like the limb | of some dismembered giant’ seems to have been the inspiration for the subject of this vignette. Both Cecilia Powell and Jan Piggott have argued that Turner based the structure shown here on studies from his 1819 trip to Rome found in the Small Roman C. Studies sketchbook (see Tate D16458, D16462, D16463; Turner Bequest CXC 44, 47, 48).3 Powell identified the monument as the so-called Temple of Salus, a Roman funerary monument which appears in an etching by Piranesi, Tempio antico volgarmente detto della Salute [Ancient Temple popularly known as Temple of Salus], 1763, from the Vedute di Roma (1748–78).4 However, it has subsequently been established that the subject of the sketches is actually the Sedia del Diavolo (Devil’s Chair), a Roman tomb dating from the second or third century which stands in present-day Piazza Callisto, near to the ancient Via Nomentana.5 This leads to the conclusion that it is the Sedia del Diavolo, not the Temple of Salus which is featured in the watercolour. In common with many of the vignette illustrations for Rogers’s Italy, Turner has fabricated the scene using composite details from different landmarks. He has represented the structure on level, not hilly terrain, and has placed it in the vicinity of the imagined remains of an aqueduct, possibly the Acqua Claudia, sketched by Turner in the Vatican Fragments sketchbook (see Tate D15238; CLXXX 75a).6
Samuel Rogers, Italy, London 1830, p.153.
W.G. Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., vol.II, London 1913, no.364. There are two impressions in Tate’s collection (T04655 and T04656).
Powell 1984, p.428 and Piggott 1993, p.82 no.5.
Powell 1984, p.428. See Luigi Ficacci, Piranesi: The Complete Etchings, Köln and London 2000, no.942, reproduced p.725.
Touring Club Italiano, Roma e Dintorni, 6th edition, Milan 1977, p.319; and Raymond Keaveney, Views of Rome from the Thomas Ashby Collection in the Vatican Library, exhibition catalogue, Smithsonian Institution, Washington 1988, p.242.
Piggott 1993, p.82 no.5.
Eric M. Lee, Translations: Turner and Printmaking, exhibition catalogue, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven 1993, p.32.

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

Revised by Nicola Moorby
June 2009

Read full Catalogue entry

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