Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Forum, Pompeii, from the Temple of Jupiter and the Arch Attributed to Augustus


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 CLXXXV 12 a

Catalogue entry

The centre of civil, commercial and religious life in Pompeii was the Forum. This important area of the city had been excavated in 1812–13, and despite still being imperfectly cleared in 1819, was one of the most recent and complete discoveries available during Turner’s visit.1 He made a large number of studies of the site from different viewpoints, see folios 13, 15, 20 verso–22 verso and 23 verso (D15761, D15764, D15775–D15779 and D15781). This sketch depicts the view looking south-east into the Forum from the so-called Arch of Augustus in the north-west corner. The building with columns visible on the left is the Temple of Jupiter and rising in the far distance are the Lattari Mountains of the Sorrentine peninsula. In the bottom right-hand corner of the page is a column base from the north-west corner of the Forum, erected by M. Pilonius Rufus and dedicated to M. Lucretio Decidian Rufo. Turner has attempted to transcribe the full Latin inscription which should read ‘M.LVCRETIO.DECIDIAN | RVFO.D.V.III.QVINQ | PONTIF.TRIB.MILITVM | A POPVLO.PRAEF.FABR | M.PILONIVS.RVFVS’.
For further sketches and a general discussion of Turner’s visit to Pompeii see the introduction to the sketchbook.

Nicola Moorby
September 2010

Roberto Cassanelli, Pier Luigi Ciapparelli, Enrico Colle et al., Houses and Monuments of Pompeii: The Works of Fausto and Felice Niccolini, Los Angeles 1997, p.218.

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