Joseph Mallord William Turner

In the Apennines, with Sketches of the Rocca di Varano


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 186 × 110 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXVII 26

Catalogue entry

After passing the village of Belforte del Chienti, see folio 23 verso (D14698), the road to Rome enters the Apennines and winds its way through ever more dramatic scenery with the mountains rising to great heights on either side. John Chetwode Eustace described the terrain in A Classical Tour Through Italy:
The grandeur of the scenery increased as we advanced; beyond the stage Valcimarra, the mountains are naked rocky and wild for some miles; on a sudden they assume a milder aspect sink in height, clothe their sides with sylvan scenery, and present on their wooded summits, churches castles and ruins, the usual ornaments of Italian mountains.1
Amongst the ruined ‘ornaments’ which Turner spotted from the road were the remains of the Rocca di Varano, a decaying fortress perched on the summit of a steep peak between Campolarzo and Camerino. The lower sketch on this page depicts a distant view of the Rocca with a bridge spanning the Chienti river in the foreground. Turner has used the sketchbook vertically to effectively convey the scale and height of the mountains. A similar view from nearby Bistocco can be found in the Route to Rome sketchbook (Tate D13866; Turner Bequest CLXXI 4a). See also folios 25 (D14701), 25 verso (D14702) and 26 verso (D14704).

Nicola Moorby
November 2008

John Chetwode Eustace, A Classical Tour Through Italy, London 1815, vol.I, p.308.

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