Joseph Mallord William Turner

Ruins on the Palatine Hill, Rome


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 229 × 368 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 54

Catalogue entry

The subject of this sketch is part of the ancient ruins of the Palatine Hill in Rome.1 Turner appears to have been standing at a point near the site of the Septizodium Severi on the south-eastern side of the hill, possibly on the steps of the Church of San Gregorio Magno al Celio. The left-hand side of the composition is dominated by the substructures of the Palace of Septimius Severus, whilst in the centre at the top is the crumbling exedra of the Hippodromus Palatii (also known as the Stadium of Domitian), part of the Domus Augustana. The series of arches in the forgeground on the right represent part of the remains of the Acqua Claudia which stand next to present-day Via di San Gregorio. Like many drawings within this sketchbook, the composition has been executed over a washed grey background and Turner has created areas of pale highlights by rubbing or lifting through to the white paper beneath.
Turner made a similar related sketches of the Palatine ruins in the Small Roman C. Studies sketchbook (see D16418–D16419, D16422 and D16457; Turner Bequest CXC 16a–17, 20 and 43), and in the Albano, Nemi, Rome sketchbook (Tate D15391; Turner Bequest CLXXXII 50).

Nicola Moorby
October 2009

Compare with the left-hand side of the composition, The Palatine with the Church of San Bonaventura, by an anonymous eighteenth century artist, in Raymond Keaveney, Views of Rome from the Thomas Ashby Collection in the Vatican Library, exhibition catalogue, Smithsonian Institution, Washington 1988, no.17, reproduced p.[101].

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