Joseph Mallord William Turner

The So-Called Temples of Vesta and the Sibyl, Tivoli; also part of the Villa Adriana


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 2

Catalogue entry

The main sketch on this page depicts two of Tivoli’s most famous landmarks, the pair of ruined temples which overlook the edge of the gorge on the northern side of the town. On the left is the circular, so-called Temple of Vesta, and to the right, the adjacent rectangular Temple of the Sibyl which until the end of the nineteenth century was incorporated within the Church of San Giorgio. Turner studied these monuments from various angles and in relation to their surroundings. For this view, he was standing near the base of the Temple of Vesta, in front of the unbroken semi-circle of surviving columns, looking north towards the façade of the Temple of the Sibyl. For a full discussion of the Temple of Vesta and a complete list of sketches see folio 3 verso (D14938).
In the bottom left-hand corner of the sheet is a separate landscape view which Turner’s inscription identifies as the Villa Adriana (Hadrian’s Villa), a large complex of palaces and gardens a couple of miles south-west of Tivoli. Built by Emperor Hadrian during the early second century as a summer retreat from Rome, the villa was rediscovered during the fifteenth century and became an important archeological site. The sketch appears to depict a view of the service quarters under the angled east-west terraces.1 The drawing spills over slightly onto the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 1 verso (D14934). Further sketches of the Villa Adriana can be found on folios 32 verso–36 (D14985–D14992).

Nicola Moorby
December 2009

Compare with a print by Agostino Penna, Viaggio pittorico della Villa Adriana, Rome 1831–36, no.81, reproduced in William L. Macdonald and John A. Pinto, Hadrian’s Villa and Its Legacy, New Haven and London 1995, fig.61, p.[65].

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