Joseph Mallord William Turner

Faenza: The Piazza del Popolo and Piazza della Libertà, with the Steps of the Cathedral, Clock Tower, Fountain and Town Hall


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 111 × 184 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXVI 43

Catalogue entry

The drawing is inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, with a brief continuation on folio 46 verso opposite (D14573; Turner Bequest CLXXVI 42a). Rather than Cesena, as Finberg suggested1 (see under D14573), Cecilia Powell has identified the setting as the city of Faenza.2
The view, south down the Piazza della Libertà, appears little changed today, with the unadorned west front of the cathedral above a flight of steps on the left and an elaborate fountain beyond. The Piazza del Popolo follows on to the right of the Palazzo del Podesta’s tall campanile-clock tower (with the dome of its cupola, cut off at the top of the page, as a separate detail to the left); the tower was destroyed in 1944 and rebuilt in 1953.3 Turner absent-mindedly initially wrote ‘23’ on the buildings in the right foreground, but crossed this figure out and wrote it instead on the next range to indicate the number of bays in the two-storey arcade and loggia of the Town Hall. As Powell has wondered: ‘Of the thousands of travellers that have journeyed towards Rome, how many, one might ask, have, like Turner, bothered to count the number of steps leading up to the cathedral at Faenza or the bays of its town hall?’4
Powell has commented on the relatively uneventful phase of Turner’s journey between leaving Bologna and reaching Rimini (folios 43 recto–60 verso; D14566–D14598; Turner Bequest CLXXVI 39a–56a);5 James Hamilton has noted this as one of the more detailed views en route, ‘suggesting he spent more time’ here than in some places sketched hurriedly on adjacent pages.
For Turner’s overall route south-east between Bologna and Ancona, see the sketchbook’s Introduction.

Matthew Imms
March 2017

See Finberg 1909, I, p.518.
See Powell 1984, pp.83, 90, 406.
See ‘Torre dell’Orologio (Torre Civica)’, Pro Loco Faenza, accessed 6 January 2017,
Powell 1984, p.90, and Powel 1987, p.25.
See Powell 1984, pp.89–90, 465 note 98.

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