Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Triangular Forum and the Doric Temple, Pompeii, with the Great Theatre and the Quadriporticus


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 113 × 189 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXV 24

Catalogue entry

This sketch depicts a view of the Triangular Forum in Pompeii, a piazza located at the southern edge of the city with the Doric Temple on the west side and the theatre quarter on the east. A similar but less detailed vista can be found on folio 24 verso (D15783). Turner appears to have been looking north-east from an area of higher ground above the Doric Temple, the remains of which appear in the foreground. In the centre of the composition, beyond the ruined colonnade of the Forum (which Turner has annotated with the number ‘50’), is the outer wall of the Great Theatre with the adjacent Quadriporticus, a large porticoed space which acted as a foyer for the theatres.1 For an alternative view of the latter see folios 25 verso–26 (D15785–D15786), whilst further studies related to the Triangular Forum can be found on folios 14 verso, 16–16 verso, and 26 verso (D15763, D15766–D15767 and D15787). For other sketches and a general discussion of Turner’s visit to Pompeii see the introduction to the sketchbook.

Nicola Moorby
September 2010

Compare the plate after an 1817 drawing by Major James Cockburn, ‘The Greek Theatre Adjoining the Great Theatre’ in Pompeii, Illustrated with Picturesque Views, Engraved by W.B. Cooke, from the Original Drawings of Liet. Col. Cockburn, of the Royal Artillery, vol.I, London 1827, p.[41].

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