Joseph Mallord William Turner

Pissignano and the Temple of Clitumnus, including Sketches of the Portico and Capitals


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 36 a

Catalogue entry

One of the most celebrated ancient monuments to be found outside of Rome was the Temple of Clitumnus (Tempietto sul Clitunno), a small structure, located on the road between Foligno and Spoleto in Umbria, dedicated to the eponymous river. This sketch depicts the approach from the north. On the slopes to the left above is the medieval fortress of Pissignano which, even in Turner’s day, was a collection of crumbling towers. For similar views see folio 36 (D14722).
As Eustace described in A Classical Tour Through Italy, the temple consists of ‘the cella and a Corinthian portico, supported by four pillars and two pilasters; the pilasters are fluted; two of the pillars are indented with two spiral lines winding round, and two ornamented with a light sculpture representing the scales of fish.’1 The top right-hand section of the page is devoted to detailed studies of the Corinthian columns and the triangular pediment decorated with bas-reliefs. In the centre of the tympanum is the Christian cross which marked the building’s conversion from a pagan place of worship to the Church of San Salvatore. Turner has also recorded the two distinct types of pattern decorating the pillars. For a general discussion of the temple see folio 37 verso (D14725).

Nicola Moorby
November 2008

John Chetwode Eustace, A Classical Tour Through Italy, London 1815, vol.1, p.321.

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