Joseph Mallord William Turner

Two Sketches at Paestum: the Eastern End of the Temple of Athena (formerly known as the Temple of Ceres); and the Interior of the Second Temple of Hera (formerly known as the Temple of Neptune)


Not on display

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 CLXXXVI 31

Catalogue entry

This page contains two sketches associated with Turner’s exploration of Paestum, an ancient city on a plain between the Lattari mountains and the Tyrrenhian sea, approximately twenty miles south-east of Salerno. The site was most famous for its three fifth-century BC Greek temples which had been rediscovered at the end of the eighteenth century. The main drawing depicts the eastern end of the Temple of Athena (formerly known as the Temple of Ceres), which as Turner shows has six columns at the front and a surviving fragment of the entablature and pediment.1 In the distance to the left can be seen the relative position of the Second Temple of Hera (formerly known as the Temple of Neptune). For a depiction of the western end of the Temple of Athena see folio 32 verso (D15971; Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 30a).
Inverted in the top left-hand corner of the page is a separate study of the interior of the Second Temple of Hera depicting the surviving remains of the pronaos, or inner portico, at one end.2 Turner used a diagram of a similar view during his perspective lectures at the Royal Academy (see Tate D17072; Turner Bequest CXCV 102), almost certainly based upon an original drawing by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778) in the collection of the architect John Soane.3
For a more detailed discussion and other sketches of the temples see folio 31 (D15968; Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 29).

Nicola Moorby
July 2010

First identified by Powell 1984, p.425.
See Powell 1987, p. 83, and Helen Dorey, John Soane & JMW Turner: Illuminating a Friendship, exhibition catalogue, Sir John Soane’s Museum, London 2007, p.24.

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