Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Santuario di Ercole Vincitore, Tivoli, seen from the Valley


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 112 × 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXIX 56 a

Catalogue entry

This study depicts a view of Tivoli looking from the floor of the valley to the north towards the long arcades of the Santuario di Ercole Vincitore (Sanctuary of Hercules the Victor), a ruined Roman temple dedicated to the cult of Hercules. Visible to the far left is the campanile of the Cathedral (Duomo) of San Lorenzo. The drawing spills over onto the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 57 (D15032).
Formerly known as the Villa of Maecenas, the Santuario di Ercole Vincitore was one of Tivoli’s most popular picturesque motifs. It features in many of Turner’s 1819 sketches looking both up and down the valley, and he also made detailed tonal studies of the architecture and the arched passageway underneath the ruin’s substructures (see for example Tate D15486; Turner Bequest CLXXXIII 20). Similar sketches to this vista can be seen in the Tivoli sketchbook (Tate D15471, D15503, D15530; Turner Bequest CLXXXIII 5, 36, 58a). It was the view from the north-east, however, which seems to have held the most enduring visual appeal for the artist and which was ultimately explored within more finished work, see folio 46 verso (D15013).
This page was selected by Ralph Nicholson Wornum for the Second Loan Collection, a group of sixty-two works exhibited in the provinces during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.1 It was removed from the sketchbook and displayed within a mount. Consequently, like the other works included in those tours, the drawing has suffered badly from over-exposure to light and the paper has yellowed considerably.

Nicola Moorby
February 2010

Warrell 1991, pp.36–8.

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