Joseph Mallord William Turner

Two Sketches in Rome; The Pyramid of Cestius with the Porta San Paolo and the Aurelian Walls; and a Distant View of St Peter’s


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 CLXXXII 42 a

Catalogue entry

The subject of this drawing is the Porta San Paulo (formerly called the Porta Ostiense), and the adjacent Pyramid of Cestius, a funerary monument of white marble built between 18–12 BC for the magistrate Gaius Cestius Epulo and later incorporated into the Aurelian Walls.1 Turner has depicted the tomb from the east and has included the outline of the walls with their square towers at regular intervals stretching towards the right. Part of the composition has been sketched over the top of an underlying drawing of St Peter’s, the continuation of the view on the opposite page, see folio 43 (D15376).
Further sketches of the Pyramid of Cestius can be found on folios 42 (D15374) and 45 verso (D15381). See also the Rome and Florence sketchbook (Tate D16500; Turner Bequest CXCI 9).

Nicola Moorby
May 2008

Raymond Keaveney, Views of Rome from the Thomas Ashby Collection in the Vatican Library, exhibition catalogue, Smithsonian Institution, Washington 1988, p.208.

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