Joseph Mallord William Turner

Ponte Molle, Rome


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 114 × 189 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII 14

Catalogue entry

This is a small sketch of the Ponte Molle, Rome, an ancient crossing also known as the Ponte Milvio, which carried the Via Flaminia across the Tiber into Rome. Famous as the site of the deciding battle between Emperors Constantine and Maxentius in 312 AD, the bridge was also the entry and exit point for British tourists to and from the city during the nineteenth century. Despite their diminutive scale Turner’s drawings clearly show the bridge’s four central arches (there were also two smaller arches at either end not clearly visible from a distance) and the entrance tower on the northern end (left) which had been rebuilt in 1805.1 As a young man, Turner had made a number of watercolour copies of images of the bridge with his contemporary, Thomas Girtin for Dr Monro’s Album of Italian Views, 1794–6 (see Turner Bequest CCCLXXIII 30–32; Tate D36443–5). For a general discussion see folio 36 (D16217).

Nicola Moorby
September 2008

For a detailed sketch of the bridge prior to 1805 see William Marlow (1740–1813), Ponte Molle, pencil on paper, Tate T09173.

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