Joseph Mallord William Turner

Castellated Ruins: ?Study for ‘Caligula’s Palace and Bridge’

c.1830

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 76 × 98 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D35815
Turner Bequest CCCLXIII 31 a

Catalogue entry

Finberg thought that the castellated structures here and on folio 33 recto opposite (D35816; Turner Bequest CCCLXIII 32) were parts of a ‘ruined abbey’,1 but the presence on the other page of an overall study for Turner’s large classical painting Caligula’s Palace and Bridge, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1831 (Tate N00512),2 suggests that the artist was drawing on his knowledge of Roman remains from his extended tours of Italy in 1819 and 1828 to concoct structures to include in the complex, somewhat fanciful architectural array of the finished design.
See also folios 6 verso and 7 recto (D35768–D35769); the latter features an elaborate study of ruins used as the centrepiece of the painting.

Matthew Imms
September 2016

1
Finberg 1909, II, p.1178.
2
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.189–90 no.337, pl.339 (colour).

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