Joseph Mallord William Turner

The River Tiber, Rome, near the Ponte Rotto


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 32

Catalogue entry

Turner made a large number of drawings with the Tiber as the central focus. This sketch depicts the river looking upstream with the dome of St Peter’s visible in the distance on the left. Turner’s viewpoint appears to be the eastern bank of the river at a point near the Isola Tiberina (Tiber Island). At this point the river curves sharply to the west and the artist’s view does not include the Ponte Fabricius, the bridge which links the island to the Jewish district of the city and would be just out of sight around the bend. In the bottom left-hand corner, the artist had drawn the easternmost surviving pier of the Ponte Rotto (literally ‘Broken Bridge’, formerly the Pons Aemilius). Today the bridge has just one isolated arch standing in the centre of the river. However, in Turner’s day there were three joining the western bank and the Trastevere district. Many of the buildings lining the river were demolished during the construction of the Lungotevere and embankment at the end of the nineteenth century.

Nicola Moorby
September 2008

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