Joseph Mallord William Turner

Ground Plan of the Temple of Vesta, 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: 112 × 186 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D40925

Catalogue entry

Cecilia Powell has identified the diagrammatic sketch on the inside front cover of the Tivoli and Rome sketchbook as a ground plan of the so-called Temple of Vesta in Tivoli (formerly known as the Temple of the Sibyl).1 The drawing is annotated with numbers which presumably refer to the dimensions of the temple but the exact meanings of which remain unclear.2 Beneath the sketch the artist has noted that it originally had ‘18 col[umns]’. Further related notes can be found on folio 65 (D15048) and in the Tivoli sketchbook (Tate D15513; Turner Bequest CLXXXIII 44a). As an amateur architect and the Royal Academy’s Professor of Perspective, Turner’s interest in classical buildings extended beyond pure aesthetics and it is likely that he would have been familiar with measured drawings and plans of the Temple by fellow Academicians such as George Dance (1741–1825) and John Soane (1753–1837).3 The ruin forms the subject of a large number of sketches in this sketchbook, see folio 3 verso (D14938), and the Tivoli sketchbook (Tate D15513–D15518; Turner Bequest CLXXXIII 44a–7).
Also on this page are some faint drawings and inscriptions which appear to be studies of plants.

Nicola Moorby
December 2009

1
Powell 1984, p.410.
2
For information on the dimensions of the Temple of Vesta see Margaret Richardson, ‘John Soane and the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli’, Architectural History, vol.46, 2003, pp.127–130.
3
See ibid.

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