Joseph Mallord William Turner

Narni from the East

1819

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 110 × 186 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D14766
Turner Bequest CLXXVII 58 a

Catalogue entry

Following the Via Flaminia south-west from Terni, the next place of interest on the route to Rome is Narni, a small hilltop town approximately seven miles away. This sketch shows Turner’s first clear view of the skyline of the town from the east. Amidst the visible landmarks are the bell-towers of the Cathedral (Il Duomo) and the Church of San Domenico whilst the structure situated at a lower point beneath the town is the castle and Church of San Girolamo. On the far left-hand side, at the highest point stands the Rocca Albornoz, a fourteenth-century fortress built to defend the papacy’s control within Umbria. John Chetwode Eustace described the ‘romantic appearance’ of Narni in A Classical Tour Through Italy, first published 1813:
Its walls and towers spread along the uneven summit, sometimes concealed in groves or cypress, ilex and laurel, and sometimes emerging from the shade, and rising above their waving tops; delightful views of the vales, towns, rivers and mountains, opening here and there unexpectedly on the eye; a certain loneliness and silence, even in the streets; the consequence and sad memorial of ages of revolution, disaster, and suffering, are all features pleasing and impressive.1
In the top right-hand corner of the page is a separate sketch of the approach towards the Porta Ternana on the eastern side of the town. The view continues on the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 59 (D14767).

Nicola Moorby
November 2008

1
John Chetwode Eustace, A Classical Tour Through Italy, London 1815, vol.I, p.335.

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