Joseph Mallord William Turner

Distant Views of the Aurelian Wall, Rome; Including the Porta San Lorenzo and the Temple of Minerva Medica


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 113 × 189 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXII 70 a

Catalogue entry

All three of these sketches depict sections of the Aurelian Wall in Rome from a location near the Church of San Lorenzo fuori le mura. Two of the views (top and bottom left) can be identified as the same view standing outside of the walls looking south-west towards the Porta San Lorenzo (also known as the Porta Tiburtina), see folio 63 verso (D15416; Turner Bequest CLXXXII 62a). The circular building visible beyond the walls is the ruin Temple of Minerva Medica, see folio 56 (D15401; Turner Bequest CLXXXII 55). It is not possible to identify the location of the sketch in the bottom right-hand corner with any certainty but Turner has included some atmospheric detail such as the clouds gathered over the walls. The sun is low in the sky and Turner notes that its setting rays have turned the sky ‘yellow’. The drawing spills over onto the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 72 (D15433; Turner Bequest CLXXXII 71). Also see this page for further studies of the Temple of Minerva Medica and the Porta San Lorenzo.
Related compositions can be found in the Small Roman C. Studies sketchbook (Tate D16436–D16438; Turner Bequest CXC 27a–29) and the Rome C. Studies sketchbook (Tate D16363; Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 36).

Nicola Moorby
May 2008

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