Joseph Mallord William Turner

Narni, from the Gorge to the North, with the Bridge of Augustus

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 x 110 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D14780
Turner Bequest CLXXVII 65 a

Catalogue entry

Turner devoted a considerable number of sketches to the Bridge of Augustus (Ponte d’Augusto) at Narni, one of the most famous landmarks in Umbria, see folio 61 verso (D14772). This page contains two drawings executed with the sketchbook held vertically like a notebook. Both landscapes are taken from the same viewpoint in the gorge to the north of the town, but looking in different directions. The lower sketch depicts the view looking west with Narni at the top of the slopes on the left and the monastery of San Cassiano above on the right. The upper sketch meanwhile shows the view looking east towards the Bridge of Augustus, with the town perched above on the right. This angle was the preferred composition chosen by the French painter, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796–1875) for his celebrated outdoor studies of the bridge, executed during a sketching tour in 1826. In paintings such as The Augustan bridge at Narni, oil on paper (Louvre, Paris), Corot sought to synthesise the authenticity and spontaneity of en plein-air painting with the academic principles of the classical landscape tradition of Claude Lorrain and Poussin.1
Also on this page is part of a horizontal landscape drawing of trees by the banks of the River Nera. This sketch continues on the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 66 (D14781).

Nicola Moorby
November 2008

1
Peter Galassi, Corot in Italy: Open-Air Painting and the Classical Landscape Tradition, New Haven and London 1991, p.170, reproduced in colour fig.200, p.168.

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