Joseph Mallord William Turner

Part of the Inscription on the Base of the Column of Marcus Aurelius in Piazza Colonna, Rome

1819

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 189 × 113 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D16632
Turner Bequest CXCI 87

Catalogue entry

Turner made two studies of the Column of Marcus Aurelius, an ancient Roman triumphal column which stands in the Piazza Colonna, Rome, see folios 13 and 82 (D16508 and D16624). Like nearby Trajan’s column which predates it, the monument is decorated with marble bas-reliefs spiralling up towards the top, and is surmounted by a bronze statue of St Paul. In addition to sketching the appearance of the column and the surrounding buildings, the artist also copied the Latin text from the square base supporting the main shaft.1 This page records the lettering on the southern face which dates from the sixteenth-century restoration of the column by Pope Sixtus V and which mistakenly dedicates it to Emperor Antoninus Pius. Turner’s inscription reads:
SISTVS V PON MA | COlWMNAV HANG | COClHILDFM IMO | ANTONINO DIGTAM | MISERE LACERAM | RVINOSAMQ REIMAE | FORMAE RES[...] | A MDLXXXIX PO IV
His transcription contains some small errors from that of the original text which reads:
SISTVS V PONT MAX | COLVMNAM HANC | COCHLIDEM IMP | ANTONINO DICATAM | MISERE LACERAM | RVINOSAMQ PRIMAE | FORMAE RESTITVIT | A. MDLXXXIX PONT IV [Pope Sixtus the fifth has rebuilt this sadly mutilated and dilapidated column, dedicated to emperor Antoninus, to its original form, in 1589, the fourth year of his pontificate.]
Further inscriptions relating to the other faces of the column base can be found on folios 89, 90 and the inside back cover (D16635, D16637 and D40957).
1
First identified by Powell 1984, p.431.
Verso:
Blank

Nicola Moorby
February 2011

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like