Joseph Mallord William Turner

?Tolentino; and the Road towards the Apennine Mountains


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 22 a

Catalogue entry

After Macerata, Turner’s route continued south-west to the next post stage of Tolentino, an ancient episcopal town which lies within the valley of the River Chienti.1 Like most of the other locations he passed en route to Rome, Turner would have seen little of Tolentino other than the sights he could glimpse from the road. The architectural features on this page possibly represent the Torrione (fortified tower) and campanile of the Church of San Catervo in Tolentino near the eastern entrance of the town. The rough nature of the drawing suggests that the artist was sketching the structures as swiftly as he could from a moving carriage.
The second sketch on the page, drawn with the sketchbook held vertically as a notebook, depicts a landscape with distant mountains. The view closely corresponds to Eustace’s description of the approach towards Belforte del Chienti and the mountains of the Apennines in A Classical Tour Through Italy:
A little beyond Tollentino we began to enter the defiles of the Apennines; the hills closing and swelling into mountains, the river roughening into a torrent, and the rocks breaking here and there into huge precipices. The road runs along the sides of the hills, with the Chienti rolling below on the left.2
Turner himself certainly knew this passage since he made notes upon the relevant pages in the Italian Guide Book sketchbook (see Tate D13939; Turner Bequest CLXXII 4a).

Nicola Moorby
November 2008

The post stage itinerary was published in Reichard’s Italy, London 1818, pp.301 and 330. See Turner’s own copy (Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXVII).
John Chetwode Eustace, A Classical Tour Through Italy, London 1815, vol.I, pp.307–8.

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