Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscriptions by Turner: Notes on Ancient Architecture


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 117 × 87 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXIV 9

Catalogue entry

At the top of the page, turned vertically, is a brief note:
The tomb of Augustus was | [?intended] to be crownd by a colossal | statue
This passage concludes a short sequence running beginning on folio 10 recto (D07973) and continuing on the verso of the present leaf (D07972). Maurice Davies was unable to identify the source of these notes ‘on ancient sculpture’,1 but they may relate to Turner’s Royal Academy perspective lectures, delivered at the Royal Academy from January 1811 onwards (see the Introduction to the sketchbook).
The first Roman emperor, Augustus, built his mausoleum, an artificial mound with concentric walls on a circular plan in Rome around 28 BC; its substantial remains still stand in the Piazza Augusto Imperatore. There have been various attempts to establish its original appearance, crowned either by a statue of Augustus alone or in a quadriga (a chariot drawn by four horses).2

Matthew Imms
January 2012

Davies 1994, p.290.
See ‘Ara Pacis Augustae: Piazza Augusto Imperatore: Mausoleo di Augusti’, Reed Digital Collections, accessed 10 August 2011,; and John Pollini, Lynn Swartz Dodd, Karen Kensek and Nicholas Cipolla, ‘Problematics of Making Ambiguity Explicit in Virtual Reconstructions: A Case Study of the Mausoleum of Augustus’, CHArt: Computers and the History of Art, accessed 10 August 2011,

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