Joseph Mallord William Turner

The So-Called Temple of Vesta, Tivoli


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 253 × 200 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXIII 46

Catalogue entry

The so-called Temple of Vesta is an ancient circular edifice dating from the first century BC which stands on the brink of the gorge at the northern edge of Tivoli. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it represented an important site for the study of classical architecture and was one of the most popular motifs for artists visiting Italy. This sketch depicts a view from just beneath the ruin looking south across its façade. For a detailed description of the temple and other related studies see folio 44 verso (D15513).
Visible in the background to the left of the Temple of Vesta is the Church of Santa Maria del Ponte and the Ponte San Rocco, a bridge above the former falling point of the ‘Grand Cascade’ of the Aniene, compare folio 27 (D15494). The church was demolished during the works to divert the river away from the residential district after a devastating flood in 1826. Similar sketches can be seen on folios 45 and 46a (D15514 and D15517). Like many drawings within this sketchbook, the composition has been executed over a washed grey background and Turner has created highlights by rubbing or lifting out the wash to reveal the white paper beneath.

Nicola Moorby
February 2010

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