Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Vicolo Sterrata, Rome, with the Statue of Apollo in the gardens of the Palazzo Barberini; also a Man on a Donkey


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 161 × 101 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXX 79

Catalogue entry

The subject of the main sketch on this page is the Vicolo Sterrata, a rustic looking street which once ran behind the gardens of the Palazzo Barberini and is today the via Barberini. In his book Walks in Rome, Augustus J.C. Hare recalled this celebrated picturesque corner of the city:
Till late years, there was a pretty old-fashioned garden belonging to this [Barberini] palace, at one corner of which – overhanging an old statue – stood the celebrated Barberini Pine, often drawn by artists from the Via Sterrata at the back of the garden, where statue and pine combined well with the Church of S. Caio; but, alas! this magnificent tree was cut down in 1872, and the church has since been destroyed.1
As Hare notes, the motif of the large stone pine and the adjacent statue of the Apollo Citerado (i.e. playing the cithara) offered an attractive proposition for artists and the spot was painted by a number of nineteenth-century painters including Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796–1875), Ettore Roesler Franz (1845–1907),2 and the Danish artist, Constantin Hansen (1804–1880).3 The statue can still be found within the grounds of the palace but now stands in a niche at the back of the gardens. A further sketch can be found in the Albano, Nemi, Rome sketchbook (see Tate D15430; Turner Bequest CLXXXII 69a).
Also on this page is a swift study drawn from life of a man on a donkey, holding a large whip or staff. Turner has executed the sketch parallel with the bottom of the page. Further sketches of people can be found on the inner front cover and on folios 6 verso, 14 verso, 15 verso, 33 verso, 64, 69, 80 verso, 82 and 82 verso (D40619, D15114, D15130, D15132, D15167, D15223, D15228, D15246, D15249 and D15250; Turner Bequest CLXXX 5a, 13a, 14a, 32a, 63, 68, 79a, 81 and 81a).

Nicola Moorby
December 2009

Augustus J.C. Hare, Walks in Rome, vol.1, reprint of 1897 edition, Boston 2000, p.292.
Vicolo Sterrato 1876, oil in canvas, Museo di Roma, reproduced in Powell 1987, p.[41], fig.43.
En gade i Rom. Vicolo Sterrato [A Street in Rome. Vicolo Sterrato] circa 1837, oil on white wove paper, Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen. Cecilia Powell also notes views by T.H. Cromeck in 1831 and W. Cowan in 1828, Powell 1987, p.202 note 13.

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