Joseph Mallord William Turner

Temple of Venus and Roma, from the Colosseum, Rome


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 130 × 255 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXC 19

Catalogue entry

During his 1819 sojourn in Rome, Turner made numerous sketches in and around the Colosseum.1 This sketch depicts the view from the western end of the surviving section of the northern outer wall, looking towards the eastern end of the Forum. On the right-hand side is part of the inner corridors which circle the famous arena. The main focus of the composition, seen on the left-hand side, is the ruined Temple of Venus and Roma. This vast structure dating from the second century AD is comprised of two shrines, one for each of the respective goddesses, which stand back to back at the eastern end of the Forum. It is the eastern facing apse of Venus with its coffered half-dome ceiling which faces the Colosseum. To the right of the Temple can be seen the bell-tower of Santa Francesca Romana and the vast ruins of the Basilica of Constantine and Maxentius. Like many drawings within this sketchbook, the composition has been executed over a washed grey background.
Related sketches of views seen from within the arcades of the Colosseum can be found on folios 15 verso and 16 (D16416 and D16417; Turner Bequest CXC 15a and 16), and in the Rome C. Studies sketchbook (Tate D16389; Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 58).
See Nicola Moorby, ‘An Italian Treasury: Turner’s Sketchbooks’, in James Hamilton, Turner and Italy, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh 2009, p.115.
Blank except for traces of grey watercolour wash

Nicola Moorby
May 2009

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