Joseph Mallord William Turner

Three Sketches of Foligno,including the Piazza della Repubblica and two views of the Fifteenth-Century Gate


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 110 × 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXVII 35 a

Catalogue entry

Turner’s passage through the Apennines took him out the Marche region of Italy and into Umbria where the first significant stop of note en routeto Rome was Foligno, a town extending across a large plain to the west of the mountains. Eustace described it in A Classical Tour Through Italy as ‘large ... yet a very indifferent town’,1 but despite his ambivalence, Foligno provided Turner with some interesting subjects for sketching. This page contains three distinct drawings of different views within the town.
In the bottom left-hand corner is a sketch which Turner has labelled ‘Piazza Grande’. This depicts part of the present-day Piazza della Repubblica, renamed during the twentieth century after the creation of the Italian Republic. Turner has taken an oblique viewpoint in the south-eastern corner of the square and the visible buildings include the Palazzo Comunale, the Palazzo Orfini, the Ex-Palazzo Comunale and the Palazzetto del Podestà. Above the inscription the artist has drawn a detailed study of part of the bell-tower of the Palazzo Comunale.
In the bottom right-hand corner is a general view of Foligno looking towards the fifteenth-century walls with a gate fortified by large towers (present-day Porta Romana). The dome of the cathedral and the spire of San Giacomo are visible on the horizon to the right. Turner would have seen this gate as he left the city on the Via Flaminia south towards Spoleto. Part of the sketch spills over onto the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 36 (D14722). The artist has also drawn a more detailed study of the gate above. Other sketches of Foligno can be found on folios 33 verso (D14717), 34 (D14718) and 34 verso (D14719), as well as in the Route to Rome sketchbook (Tate D13891 and D13896; Turner Bequest CLXXI 18 and 20 verso).

Nicola Moorby
November 2008

John Chetwode Eustace, A Classical Tour Through Italy, London 1815, vol.I, p.318.

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