Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Forum, Rome, from the Palatine


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 49 a

Catalogue entry

The subject of this sketch is a view of the Roman Forum from the south-east, standing on the Palatine Hill. The Roman remains within the dip in the centre include, from left to right: the Temple of Saturn, the Column of Phocas and the Arch of Septimius Severus. These are flanked by the more modern buildings of the Palazzo Senatorio, the dome of Santi Luca e Martina and the Curia beyond. Turner did not have enough paper left to draw the full height of the Capitoline Tower and so sketched the statue of the goddess Roma which surmounts the Senatorial Palace separately to the left-hand side. The composition also spills over slightly onto the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 51 (D15391; Turner Bequest CLXXXII 50). The juxtaposition of ancient and modern buildings in the Forum seen from higher ground is a theme Turner would later revisit in his oil painting, Modern Rome – the Campo Vaccino exhibited 1839 (private collection on loan to the National Gallery of Scotland).1
For a general discussion of Turner’s depictions of the Forum see folio 32 (D15355).

Nicola Moorby
May 2008

Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, no.379.

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