Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Colosseum and Santi Giovanni e Paolo from the Palatine, Rome


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 229 × 368 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 43 a

Catalogue entry

The Palatine Hill was one of the most popular vantage points in Rome and Turner made a large number of studies from the location, recording views of the city seen in all directions. This sketch depicts the panoramic prospect seen from the eastern side, near the Domus Augustana. On the left is the Colosseum and in the foreground are parts of the ruins of the Palatine including a surviving section of the Claudian Aqueduct. The most detailed part of the drawing is the Caelian Hill on the right. Here Turner has carefully documented an accurate description of the topography including the rounded apse and bell-tower of the Church of San Giovanni e Paolo, the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano in the distance beyond, and, on the far right-hand side of the page, a partial view of the façade of San Gregorio Magno al Celio. Although the composition has been executed almost entirely in pencil, Turner has added small touches of blue and grey watercolour to the Colosseum, giving it the beginnings of some tonal depth.
Similar related views can be found on folio 54 verso (D16384) and two other coloured studies now detached from this sketchbook (D16345, D16366; CLXXXIX 19, 39). Another view of San Giovanni e Paolo seen from a more southerly location also appears in the bottom right-hand corner of another sheet (D16348; CLXXXIX 22).

Nicola Moorby
July 2009

Read full Catalogue entry

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