Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Eastern End of the Forum, Rome, with the Temple of Castor and Pollux


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 113 × 189 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXII 52 a

Catalogue entry

Like the preceding page, see folio 53 (D15395; Turner Bequest 52), this sketch shows the remains of the Temple of Castor and Pollux facing towards the east end of the Forum. Visible between the columns of the Temple are the campanile of Santa Francesca Romana on the left, and the arches of the Colosseum on the right. In the middle ground on the left is the Baroque outline of the Church of San Lorenzo in Miranda but the surrounding portico of the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina is obscured by trees. To the right, in the centre of the sketch, is the façade of the Church of Santi Cosama e Damiano and the dome and cupola of the Temple of Romulus, and beyond that, the three large barrel vaulted arches of the Basilica of Constantine. The composition of the view is similar to the one copied by Turner in the Italian Guide Book sketchbook after John ‘Warwick’ Smith, (see Tate D13966; Turner Bequest CLXXII 19). A related coloured study can be found in the Rome: C. Studies sketchbook (see Tate D16375; Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 46).
In the foreground of the sketch Turner has also drawn a number of figures including a figure on a donkey or mule, and a man with a cow harnessed to a cart. For many centuries the Forum was known as the Campo Vaccino and was used as grazing for cattle, see folio 53 verso (D15396; Turner Bequest 52a). The area was more thoroughly excavated in the later part of the nineteenth century and the uneven ground seen in Turner’s drawing was cleared away and levelled off. On the far right-hand side of the page is an oblique view of the façade of the Church of Santa Maria Liberatrice. This building was demolished at the beginning of the twentieth century during the excavations.
For a general discussion of the Forum see folio 32 (D15355).

Nicola Moorby
May 2008

Read full Catalogue entry


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