Joseph Mallord William Turner

Four Views of the Tomb of the Plautii, near Tivoli

1819

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 186 × 112 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D14977
Turner Bequest CLXXIX 28 a

Catalogue entry

The subject of the sketches on this page is the Tomb of the Plautius family (or Tomb of the Plautii), a cylindrical first-century funerary monument of Travertine stone, which stands on the Via Valeria, approximately two miles west of Tivoli. When travelling on the road from Rome to Tivoli it was one of the first sights to relieve the featureless plain of the Campagna, and, in conjunction with the adjacent Ponte Lucano, it represented a popular subject for artists. Turner himself made over twenty variant studies during his visit to Tivoli, see folio 27 verso (D14975). The twenty-mile journey would have been covered by carriage. However, the large number of sketches of the bridge and Plautian tomb indicates that Turner was afforded enough time to fully explore the site from a number of different angles, on foot, as well as from the road.
On this particular page, Turner has turned his sketchbook vertically in order to fit in four successive drawings showing the bridge and the tomb on the approach from the west. Despite being swiftly and economically executed the studies demonstrate a surety of hand and attention to detail.

Nicola Moorby
January 2010

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