Joseph Mallord William Turner

Two Views of the Porta Maggiore, Rome


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 54 a

Catalogue entry

Cecilia Powell has identified the sketches on this page as depicting the Porta Maggiore, an ancient gate also known as the Porta Praenestina, built to carry the waters of Rome’s two main aqueducts, the Aqua Claudius and the Aqua Anino Novus, over two of its major roads, the Via Labicana and Via Praenestina. The Emperor Aurelian later incorporated the arches of the gate into the line of walls encircling the city, whilst in the middle ages, the Colonna family enclosed them within a fortified tower. In 1837–8, Pope Gregory XVI demolished these accretions and once again opened up the original arches, uncovering during the process, the unusual tomb of the baker, Eurysaces which still stands in front of the exterior side of the gate.1
Turner’s sketches show the outer and inner (bottom right) sides of the gate as it appeared before the nineteenth-century alterations. Comparison with other near contemporaneous images such as Giuseppe Vasi’s engraving in Le Porta e le Mura di Roma, published 1747, reveals the accuracy of his records.2

Nicola Moorby
May 2008

Lauren Hackworth Petersen, ‘The Baker, his Tomb, his wife and her breadbasket’, The Art Bulletin, June 2003, p.2.

Read full Catalogue entry

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