Joseph Mallord William Turner

Two views of the Aqueduct south of Loreto, with Recanati in the Distance

1819

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 110 × 186 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D14676
Turner Bequest CLXXVII 12 a

Catalogue entry

These two sketches depict the view towards Recanati, a small town approximately three miles south-west from Loreto which is built along the crest of a hill. In the foreground can be seen a sixteenth-century aqueduct which stretched across the valley between the two locations and which supplied water from the mountains to Loreto. The aqueduct and a series of underground tunnels were installed to service the needs of the large number of pilgrims who travelled to Loreto every year to visit the Shrine of the Holy House. Built by Giovanni Fontana and Carlo Maderno during the papacy of Paul V (1552–1621), the remains can still be seen today to the left of the road leaving Loreto, see folio 16 (D14683). Turner registered the existence of the aqueduct in the Italian Guide Book sketchbook as part of his summary of information from Eustace’s A Classical Tour through Italy, 1815 (see Tate D13939; Turner Bequest CLXXII 4a). He also annotated in situ the relevant passage in his copy of Reichard’s Italy, 1818, noting that the surviving structure contained ‘33 arches’ (see Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXVII, p.332). Further sketches can be found on folios 11 verso, 14 verso, 15 verso, 16 and 16 verso (D14674, D14680, D14682, D14683 and D14684).
An aqueduct appears as a feature in the middle distance of the finished oil painting, The Loretto Necklace exhibited 1829 (Tate, N00509).1 However, Turner has used considerable artistic licence in its depiction, placing it to the north of the city instead of the south, and representing it with a double rather than a single row of arches.

Nicola Moorby
November 2008

1
Butlin and Joll 1984, no.331.

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