Joseph Mallord William Turner

Three Sketches on the Via Appia between Rome and Terracina: Two of a Cippus at Tor Tre Ponti; and a View of Mesa

1819

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 122 x 197 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D15582
Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 14 a

Catalogue entry

This page contains three sketches depicting views seen by the artist during his journey south on the Via Appia between Rome and Terracina. The two studies in the top centre and right-hand corner both represent a roadside cippus, an ancient Roman pillar which contains an inscription. According to Turner’s written note, he saw the ruin at Tor Tre Ponti (also known as Treponti or Torre Tre Ponti), a small village and post-station near Latina amidst the Pontine Marshes. Eustace describes how a Latin dedication on a marble slab could be found here commemorating the drainage of the marshes and the restoration of the Via Appia by the Emperors Nerva and Trajan.1 In fact there are several similar monuments along this stretch of road, see folio 12 verso (D15578). This one may still be seen between Tor Tre Ponti and Borgo Faiti.2 The mountain range in the background is the Monti Lipini (also known as the Volscian Mountains). For further views related to Tor Tre Ponti see folio 13 verso (D15580), as well as the Vatican Fragments sketchbook (Tate D15110; Turner Bequest CLXXX 3a) and the Naples, Paestum, Rome sketchbook (Tate D15974; Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 32).
On the left-hand side of the sheet parallel with the edge, is a sketch of the village of Mesa, eleven miles south of Tor Tre Ponti, with the eighteenth-century post-house on the left and a square-shaped cippus by the side of the road on the right. A related view from the opposite direction can be seen on folio 13 (D15579).

Nicola Moorby
April 2010

1
John Chetwode Eustace, A Classical Tour Through Italy, London 1821, 6th edition, vol.II, p.297.

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