Joseph Mallord William Turner

Sketches of the Villa Adriana, Tivoli: the Greek Library and Hall of the Philosophers; and the Baths with Heliocaminus


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 186 × 112 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXIX 35 a

Catalogue entry

Just outside of Tivoli is the celebrated archaeological site of the Villa Adriana, a second-century palace and garden complex built for the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Turner’s made a brief visit to the villa, making several swift studies of the key buildings of interest, see folio 32 verso (D14985). Cecilia Powell first correctly identified the subjects of the three sketches on this page.1 Both vistas are depicted looking in different directions from the same viewpoint. The drawing at the top of the page represents the back of the Hall of the Philosophers on the left, with the tall ruins of the Greek Library (Biblioteca Greca, actually a guest hall) on the right. The two structures are connected by the outer wall of the so-called Maritime Theatre. Meanwhile, the two sketches at the bottom of the page depict the Baths with Heliocaminus, a circular heated room covered with a domed roof.
Alternative views of the Greek Library can be found on folios 35 and 36 (D14990 and D14992), whilst the interior of the Hall of the Philosophers can be seen on folio 34 verso (D14989).

Nicola Moorby
January 2010

Powell 1984, p.410.

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