Joseph Mallord William Turner

Sketches of the Villa Adriana, Tivoli: the Hall of the Philosophers and Poikile Stoa


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 112 x 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXIX 34 a

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. He used his visit to make several swift studies of the key buildings of interest, see folio 32 verso (D14985). Cecilia Powell first correctly identified the subjects of the sketches on this page.1 In the bottom left-hand corner is the Hall of the Philosophers (Sala dei Filosofi), a large hall with an apsed end adorned with niches for statues.2 Although very rough in execution, the drawings at the top and bottom right-hand side of the sheet appear to depict the Pecile (or Poikile Stoa), a recreation of the Stoà Poikile in Athens. Originally a vast four-sided double portico surrounding a garden and pool, the surviving fragments include a long wall along the northern edge, leading to the Hall of the Philosophers. Turner also seems to have sketched some floral motifs in the top left-hand corner, possibly ornamental details from the stuccowork of the vaults of the Large Baths or another part of the Villa.

Nicola Moorby
January 2010

Powell 1984, p.410.
See an etching by Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Avanzi di una Sala appartenente al Castro Pretorio nella Villa Adriana in Tivoli from the Vedute di Roma, reproduced in Luigi Ficacci, Piranesi: The Complete Etchings, Köln and London 2000, no.983, reproduced p.747.

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