Joseph Mallord William Turner

Sketches of the Villa Adriana, Tivoli: including the Greek Library from the Hall of the Libraries


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 36

Catalogue entry

Part of Turner’s trip to Tivoli in 1819 included a detour to the Villa Adriana (Hadrian’s Villa), an elaborate palace and garden complex approximately one mile south-west of the town. Built during the second century for the Roman Emperor Hadrian, it was designed as an imperial summer retreat filled with architectural recreations of celebrated buildings of the world. Turner used the time that was available to him to make several swift studies of the key buildings of interest, see folio 32 verso (D14985). As Cecilia Powell first identified, the drawing on the left-hand side of the page represents a view of the Greek Library (Biblioteca Greca, actually a guest hall) from the Hall or Terrace of the Libraries. The subject of the two sketches parallel with the right-hand edge of the sheet are currently unidentified, although they probably also depict views within the Villa Adriana.

Nicola Moorby
January 2010

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