Joseph Mallord William Turner

Ponte San Rocco and the Grand Cascade, Tivoli


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 112 × 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXIX 88 a

Catalogue entry

This sketch of Tivoli depicts the view looking south from beneath the so-called Temple of Vesta towards the ‘Grand Cascade’ of the River Aniene. To the left-hand bank of the falls are the Church of Santa Maria del Ponte and the broken arch of a stone bridge, the Ponte San Rocco, which had been swept away in a flood in 1808. In the bottom right-hand corner of the page Turner has made a separate study of the wooden bridge which had been erected upon the foundations and which spanned the crossing of the gully. At the top of the sheet he has made a note concerning the complementary colouring of the ‘Blue Shad[ows]’ and the ‘Yell[ow] Light’. A small part of the drawing spills over onto the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 90 (D15097; Turner Bequest CLXXIX 89). Further sketches can be seen on folios 2 verso–3 (D14936–D14937), and another more detailed drawing can be found in the Tivoli sketchbook (Tate D15494; Turner Bequest CLXXXIII 27). Turner also recorded the view looking towards the bridge from the opposite direction, see folios 43 and 77 verso (D15006 and D15072).
The picturesque properties of this prospect had made it a popular subject for artists, and by the early nineteenth century it was a well-established topographical motif. An early example is Gaspar van Wittel’s (1652/3–1736), View of Tivoli circa 1700 (Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore), which pictures an artist sketching the view from a point below the Temple of Vesta.1 Similar vistas incorporating the original stone Ponte San Rocco include a drawing and related print by Albert Christophe Dies (1755–1822) published in Vues Pittoresques de l’Italie (circa 1795),2 François-Marius Granet (1775–1849), Ponte San Rocco and Falls, Tivoli circa 1810–20 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) and Revd William Henry Barnard (1767/9–1818), Tivoli (Tate, T09427). Contemporaneous views, meanwhile, depicting the temporary wooden bridge, include an illustrations in Italian Scenery from drawings made in 1817 by Miss Batty (published 1820),3 and in a drawing by James Hakewill (1778–1843), Tivoli 1817 (British School at Rome Library).4

Nicola Moorby
February 2010

Reproduced at, accessed December 2009.
The drawing is reproduced in colour in Raymond Keaveney, Views of Rome from the Thomas Ashby Collection in the Vatican Library, exhibition catalogue, Smithsonian Institution, Washington 1988, no.71, p.[257].
[Elizabeth Frances] Batty, Italian Scenery from Drawings Made in 1817 by Miss Batty, London 1820, opposite p.115.
Tony Cubberley and Luke Herrmann, Twilight of the Grand Tour: A Catalogue of the drawings by James Hakewill in the British School at Rome Library, Rome 1992, no.5.7, pp.230–1, reproduced.

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like