Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study for ‘Caligula’s Palace and Bridge’; ?Study for ‘Temple of Minerva’; St Lawrence

c.1830

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 76 x 98 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D35768
Turner Bequest CCCLXIII 6 a

Catalogue entry

At the top left is a landscape with buildings beyond trees which relates directly to Turner’s large classical painting Caligula’s Palace and Bridge, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1831 (Tate N00512).1 The shaded architectural element equates to the towering ruins near the centre of that composition, set contre-jour against the low sun. There is a detailed study for this part of the composition on folio 7 recto opposite (D35769). See also folios 32 verso and 33 recto (D35815–D25816; CCCLXIII 31a, 32); the latter includes a slightly more detailed variant on the present drawing.
The colonnade and tower at the bottom left is perhaps a working idea for other aspects of the painting, although there is also what may be a fortuitous resemblance to part of the ruins shown in a watercolour of the Temple of Minerva, Cape Colonna (Sunium) (Townley Hall Art Gallery and Museum, Burnley),2 engraved in 1832 for Finden’s Landscape Illustrations of Lord Byron’s works (Tate impression: T06178). See folio 44 verso (D35836; Turner Bequest CCCLXIII 43 a) for a composition more certainly related to a Byronic subject.
Inverted at the top is a slight coastal profile view apparently annotated as showing St Lawrence, just west of Ramsgate, to the north-east across Pegwell Bay; see also folios 28 recto, 29 verso and 39 verso–40 recto (D35806, D35809, D35826–D35827; Turner Bequest CCCLXIII 27, 28a, 38a–39). For views of Ramsgate itself, see Alice Rylance-Watson’s entry for the dramatic Ports of England watercolour of about 1824 (Tate D18150; Turner Bequest CCVIII Q).
For other Kent subjects, see the sketchbook’s Introduction.

Matthew Imms
September 2016

1
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.189–90 no.337, pl.339 (colour).
2
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.445 no.1213, reproduced.

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