Joseph Mallord William Turner

Narni, from the Valley to the North-East, with the Medieval and Roman Bridges


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 110 × 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXVII 65

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 depicts part of a view of Narni from the valley to the east, with the ruined Roman bridge and the adjacent medieval bridge, destroyed by Allied bombing during the Second World War. The sketch, which continues on the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 64 verso (D14777), recalls John Chetwode Eustace’s description of the ‘romantic appearance’ of Narni in A Classical Tour Through Italy, first published 1813:
The ancient Roman colony of Narni stands on the summit of a very high and steep hill, whose sides are clothed with olives, and whose base is washed by the Nera. At the foot of the hill we alighted to visit the celebrated bridge of Augustus ... All the piers and one arch still remain ... We were particularly struck with the romantic appearance of Narni. 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
The skyline on this side of the panorama includes, from left to right: the tower of the Palazzo del Podestà; the Torre del Capitano; and the fortified walls encircling the town, including the eastern gate, the Porta della Fiera. A similar view can be found on folio 66 (D14781).

Nicola Moorby
November 2008

John Chetwode Eustace, A Classical Tour Through Italy, London 1815, vol.I, pp.334–5.

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