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 x 200 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXIII 46 a

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 north across its façade. Turner has partially indicated the fluted surface of the Corinthian columns, the windows and door of the inner cella and the sculptural frieze adorned with ox-heads and garlands. Further studies of the architectural elements can be seen on folio 45 verso (D15515). Visible in the background is the so-called Temple of the Sibyl, an adjacent rectangular ruin which until the end of the nineteenth century was incorporated within the Church of San Giorgio. Similar sketches can be seen on folios 45–46 (D15514–D15516). For a detailed description of the Temple of Vesta and other related studies see folio 44 verso (D15513).
In the top left-hand corner of the page, Turner has attempted to transcribe the inscription from the architrave. The full text, dedicated to the consul, Lucius Gellius Poplicola, who supervised the building of the temple, should read ‘curant L.GELLIO LF’.1

Nicola Moorby
February 2010

See Margaret Richardson, ‘John Soane and the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli’, Architectural History, vol.46, 2003, p.132.

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