Joseph Mallord William Turner

The North Façade of the Arch of Constantine, Rome


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 114 × 189 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII 21 a

Catalogue entry

A view of the northern façade of the Arch of Constantine looking down the present-day Via di San Gregorio towards the ruins of the Palatine Hill. The sketch is very rough and Turner has underestimated the height of the attic of the arch. The arch is shaded with broad cross-hatching and Turner is possibly recording the parts of the monument plunged into shadow by setting sun. On the left-hand side Turner has drawn a quick study of a man in a hat and long cape, whilst underneath the sketch he has inscribed the name of ‘Pius VII’, the Pope who was in power during Turner’s visit and who instituted the most systematic campaign of excavation and restoration in the Roman Forum. For other sketches of the Arch of Constantine see folio 18 (D16190).
In the bottom right-hand corner is part of a sketch of the Colosseum which continues on the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 23 (D16197).

Nicola Moorby
September 2008

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