Joseph Mallord William Turner

Spoleto, from across the River Tessino near the Present-Day Ponte Garibaldi

1819

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 110 × 186 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D14727
Turner Bequest CLXXVII 38 a

Catalogue entry

The picturesque Umbrian town of Spoleto lies thirteen miles from Foligno, approximately half-way on the nineteenth-century route between Ancona and Rome. This sketch represents a panoramic view from the natural point of entry into the north of the town; the intersection of the Via Flaminia and the River Tessino, near present-day Ponte Garibaldi. On the far left is the medieval church and monastery of San Ponziano whilst the three arches belong to the Roman remains of the Ponte Sanguinario. To the right is the cathedral whilst dominating the scene on the slopes above is the fourteenth-century castle, the Rocca Albornoziana. Giovanni Carandente believed that the artist’s viewpoint was the Viale Martiri della Resistenza, outside of the ancient city walls.1 However, this was corrected by Cecilia Powell who recognised that the foreground depicted the river, not the walls.2 The panorama continues on the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 39 (D14728). Similar views can be found on folios 40 verso (D14731) and 42 (D14734), as well as in the Route to Rome sketchbook (Tate D13922; Turner Bequest CLXXI 33a).
As was often the case during this tour, the progress of the carriage did not give the artist much opportunity to stop and explore the centre of Spoleto. He simply followed a predetermined course around the perimeter of the town and consequently his sketches only depict views he could see from the road skirting the boundary of the walls (the Via Interna delle Mura).

Nicola Moorby
November 2008

1
Carandente 1968, p.20 note 16.
2
Powell 1984, p.409.

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