Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Exterior of the Amphitheatre, Pompeii, with Vesuvius in Distance


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 113 x 189 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXV 18 a

Catalogue entry

The Amphitheatre in Pompeii lies along the eastern perimeter of the city walls between the Porta di Sarno and the Porta di Nocera. First discovered in 1748 it was completely excavated in 1813–16 and represents one of the oldest and best preserved Roman arenas in existence. During Turner’s visit in 1819 it was virtually the only landmark of importance which had been uncovered on the eastern side of the archeological site. The artist made a number of studies of the structure, see folios 17 verso–19 and 27 (D15769–D15772 and D15788).
This sketch represents a view of the Amphitheatre from the south with Vesuvius dominating the background beyond. Despite the rough nature of the drawing Turner has clearly depicted the exterior arches of the structure with the central double staircase on the western side.
For further sketches and a general discussion of Turner’s visit to Pompeii see the introduction to the sketchbook.

Nicola Moorby
September 2010

Read full Catalogue entry

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