Joseph Mallord William Turner

Piazza della Repubblica, Foligno, with the Cathedral and Palazzo Trinci


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 34

Catalogue entry

Turner’s passage through the Apennines took him out the Marche region of Italy and into Umbria where the first significant stop of note en routeto Rome was Foligno, a town extending across a large plain to the west of the mountains. Eustace described it in A Classical Tour Through Italy as ‘large ... yet a very indifferent town’,1 but despite his ambivalence, Turner found Foligno provided some interesting subjects for sketching. This view depicts the historic centre of the town, the Piazza della Repubblica (formerly the Piazza Grande), with the Palazzo Trinici on the left and the cathedral on the right. The latter, the Duomo of San Feliciano, has two façades; this side borders the north-west corner of the Piazza. The cathedral underwent a period of restoration in 1904 and some details of the exterior look different today than they would have done during the nineteenth century. Notably, the building in Turner’s sketch lacks a triangular pediment above the large round window of the entrance, as well as two lights either side of the small loggia above the door. With typical economy, the artist has not bothered to draw in all of the arches and windows across the façade but has indicated with numbers how many there should be, i.e. ‘9’ arches along the ground floor and ‘6’ sets of windows on the first and second storeys.
On the left-hand side of the composition is the Palazzo Trinci, the former residence of the ruling family of Foligno. The Renaissance façade depicted by Turner was damaged by earthquakes during the 1830s and was rebuilt in a neo-classical style. With rough hatched strokes Turner has indicated the narrow darkened street which separates the palace from the cathedral.
Other sketches of Foligno can be found on folios 33 verso (D14717), 34 verso (D14719) and 35 verso (D14721), as well as in the Route to Rome sketchbook (Tate D13891 and D13896; Turner Bequest CLXXI 18 and 20 verso).

Nicola Moorby
November 2008

John Chetwode Eustace, A Classical Tour Through Italy, London 1815, vol.I, p.318.

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