Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study for ‘Tivoli’, Rogers’s ‘Italy’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 169 × 239 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 88

Catalogue entry

This is an experimental study for Tivoli, the vignette that Turner produced for Rogers’s Italy. The finished version of this subject shows a view of the circular Temple of Vesta (also known as the Temple of the Tiburtine Sibyl) at Tivoli (see Tate D27683; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 166). In contrast, this unfinished study presents a dramatic view of the so-called Villa of Maecenas (now called the Santuario di Ercole Vincitore or Sanctuary of Hercules the Victor) with the Roman Campagna in the distance. A few pencil strokes on the left represent the cascades plunging over the steep sides of the gorge, whilst a low-peaked pink mountain rises in the far distance. A dusky palette of soft blues, purples and olive further enhances the romantic mood of this evocative composition. Turner produced many views of the countryside, falls, and ravines at Tivoli, which may have served him in the production of this study (see Tate D15468, D15496, D15497, D15504, D15506; Turner Bequest CLXXXIII 2, 29, 30, 37, 39 and Tate D16117; CLXXXVII 29).
The study was once part of a parcel labelled by John Ruskin as ‘A.B. 40. PO. Vignette beginnings, once on a roll. Worthless’.1 Finberg records how Ruskin later described his phrasing in a letter to Ralph Nicholson Wornum as ‘horrible’, adding ‘I never meant it to be permanent’.2
Finberg, 1909, vol.II, p.894.
Finberg 1909, vol.I, p.xi.
Inscribed by an unknown hand in blue pencil ‘216’ centre.

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

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