Joseph Mallord William Turner

Tivoli, looking towards the So-Called Temple of Vesta


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 112 × 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXIX 63 a

Catalogue entry

This sketch depicts a view of Tivoli looking towards the so-called Temple of Vesta, a circular ruin dating from the first century BC which stands on the brink of a gorge at the northern edge of Tivoli. Turner’s viewpoint is from a location near present-day Piazza Rivarola, looking north in the direction of a wooden bridge, the Ponte San Rocco, with a proliferation of houses flanking the banks of the River Aniene. The drawing spills over onto the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 64 (D15046). Similar compositions can be found on folios 43–44, 64 verso and 77 verso (D15006–D15008, D15047, D15072).
The prospect in Turner’s sketch is similar to that in paintings by Louis Ducros (1748–1810),1 and in an engraving by Luigi Rossini (1790–1857).2 However, it is no longer possible to find the same vista in present-day Tivoli. A devastating flood in 1826 persuaded Pope Gregory XVI to divert the course of the river away from the residential district. Consequently, the town’s many waterfalls, including the Grand Cascade near to the Temple of Vesta, were replaced instead by the great waterfall in the Villa Gregoriana to the north-east of the town. Furthermore, the topography of the town was vastly altered and the wooden Ponte San Rocco was succeeded by the newly-built Ponte Gregoriano.

Nicola Moorby
February 2010

See Pierre Chessex, Lindsay Stainton, Luc Boissanas et al, Images of the Grand Tour: Louis Ducros 1748–1810, exhibition catalogue, Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood 1985, nos.18–20, reproduced.
Reproduced in Raymond Keaveney, Views of Rome from the Thomas Ashby Collection in the Vatican Library, exhibition catalogue, Smithsonian Institution, Washington 1988, p.256.

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