Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Tarpeian Rock on the Capitoline Hill, Rome; Also Two Views on Banks of Tiber near the Aventine Hill


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 48 a

Catalogue entry

The largest sketch on this page depicts the back of the Capitoline Hill with the Tarpeian Rock, the legendary place of execution from which prisoners were thrown to their deaths during the Roman Republic. Turner’s viewpoint repeats that of a composition by Luigi Rossini (1790–1857), Veduta degl’Avanzi della Rupe Tarpeja rivestita di Case moderne. Dalla parte posteriore del Campidoglio Romano.1
There are two additional landscape views on this page drawn with the sketchbook held in portrait format. They appear to depict the River Tiber from a location just outside of the centre of Rome to the south of the Aventine Hill. The upper sketch shows the view on the opposite bank looking towards the section of the Aurelian walls which connects the Porta San Paolo (also known as the Porta Ostiense) and the river. The lower sketch depicts the view looking north towards the city with Mount Aventine on the right and the dome of St Peter’s in the distance on the left. A similar set of sketches looking respectively north, east and south from the same location can be found on folios 57 verso and 58 (D16254 and D16259; Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII 54a and 57).

Nicola Moorby
September 2008

See Ralph Holland, The Vision of Rome in the 17th, 18th and 19th century, exhibition catalogue, Hatton Gallery, Newcastle 1969, no.169, reproduced plate XIII. See also Francis Towne, The Tarpeian Rock, watercolour, 1781(British Museum, London), reproduced in colour in Anna Ottani Cavina, Un Paese Incantato: Italia Dipinta da Thomas Jones a Corot, exhibition catalogue, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Parigi and Palazzo Te, Mantova, Italy 2001, no.20, p.35.

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