Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Interior of the Amphitheatre, Pompeii


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 18

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 depicts a view of the interior from the lower part of the terraced seating. The dark area in the centre of the composition represents one of the entrance passageways.
For further sketches and a general discussion of Turner’s visit to Pompeii see the introduction to the sketchbook.

Nicola Moorby
September 2010

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