Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Villa Rondanini, on the Road Approaching the Porta San Lorenzo, Rome; and Part of the Aurelian Wall, Rome


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 CLXXXII 61 a

Catalogue entry

The main sketch shows a road lined with cypress trees and umbrella pines receding into the distance with mountains beyond. A villa stands on the left in the middle ground. Comparison with a drawing by James Hakewill, Rome. Looking to the Porta S. Lorenzo (British School of Rome Library) reveals that Turner’s sketch depicts a similar view.1 The road is the present-day Via Marsala which leads to the Porta San Lorenzo, also known as the Porta Tiburtina, and the building on the left is therefore the Villa Rondanini, one of a number of family estates which lay just within the city walls, identified within Hakewill’s drawing by Cubberley and Herrmann.2 The villa was demolished in 1872. Another similar view further along the road is folio 69 (D15427; Turner Bequest CLXXXII 68). See also folio 63 verso (D15416; Turner Bequest CLXXXII 62a).
The sketch in the top right-hand corner appears to show a ruined building with an adjoining wall. The square towers at regular intervals suggest that this could be part of the Aurelian Walls in Rome whilst the circular structure might be the Amphitheatrum Castrense, a small amphitheatre of red brick located near the Church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in the Lateran district of the city, see also folio 73 verso (D15436: Turner Bequest CLXXXII 72a).
The sketches are inverted on the page.

Nicola Moorby
May 2008

Tony Cubberley and Luke Herrmann, Twilight of the Grand Tour: A Catalogue of the drawings by James Hakewill in the British School at Rome Library, Rome 1992, no.3.32, p.213 reproduced.

Read full Catalogue entry

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