Joseph Mallord William Turner

Three Sketches of the Ruins of Pompeii, Including the Two Views of the Triangular Forum


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 16

Catalogue entry

The Triangular Forum in Pompeii is a piazza located at the southern edge of the city adjacent to the theatre area. It is surrounded by a Doric portico which was left open at the southern end to avoid blocking the view below the city. This sketch depicts that prospect looking south towards the Lattari Mountains of the Sorrentine peninsula. On the left are the ruined portico and the wall of the adjoining Great Theatre, whilst to the right are the remains of the Doric Temple. The sketch in the top right-hand corner depicts the porticoed entrance to the Triangular Forum, also known as the Ionic Propylaeum (Gateway). The view is taken from the Via del Tempio d’Iside with the back of the Great Theatre on the left.1
The location of the drawing in the top left-hand corner is currently identified although it appears to depict the columns of a peristyle with a fountain or pool in front.
For further sketches and a general discussion of Turner’s visit to Pompeii see the introduction to the sketchbook.

Nicola Moorby
September 2010

The present-day portico has been more fully restored but compare an engraving by Charles Heath, ‘Entrance Portico to the Greek Temple’, published December 1818, reproduced in Sir William Gell and Joseph Gandy, Pompeiana: The Topography, Edifices, and Ornaments of Pompeii, London 1824, vol.II, pl.65, between pp.254–5. See also a painting by Achille-Etna Michallon (1796–1822), Le Forum à Pompéi, reproduced in Anna Ottani Cavina, Paysages d’Italie: les peintres du plein air (1780–1830), exhibition catalogue, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris 2001.

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