Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Northern End of the Forum, Pompeii, with the Temple of Jupiter


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 21

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 12 verso–15, 21 verso–22 verso, 23 verso (D15760–D15764, D15777–D15779, D15781). This sketch depicts the northern end of the Forum which is dominated by the ruins of the Temple of Jupiter. The latter, which has a staircase at the front leading to a colonnade, is flanked on either side by an arch. On the left is the Arch of Augustus, whilst on the right is the arch at the north-east corner of the Forum, tentatively attributed to Tiberius. Rising beyond the ruins is the silhouette of Vesuvius. Part of the composition spills over onto the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 20 verso (D15775).
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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