Joseph Mallord William Turner

Two Views of the River Tiber near Mount Aventine, Rome, including the Basilica of San Paolo fuori le mura


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 114 × 189 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII 55 v

Catalogue entry

The main sketch in the bottom half of this page depicts the view looking down-river from the Porto di Ripa Grande towards San Paolo fuori le mura (St Paul Outside the Walls), one of the four great papal basilicas of Rome.1 The church was built on what was believed to be the birthplace of St Paul and is so called owing to its location beyond the Aurelian walls, the perimeter which marked the boundaries of the ancient city. The early medieval building was almost completely destroyed by fire in July 1823. It was subsequently reconstructed with a similar façade but with a new portico and a different bell-tower. Other sketches of the basilica can be found in the Rome and Florence sketchbook (see Tate D16497, D16501–D16502, D16507, D16511; Turner Bequest CXCI 7a, 9a–10, 12a and 14a) and there is a coloured version of the view at sunset in the Naples: Rome C. Studies sketchbook (see Tate D16131; Turner Bequest CLXXXVII 43).
At the top of the page is another landscape which appears to depict the opposite bank of the river from the Porto di Ripa Grande with the Alban hills in the background. The towered structure on the right, which also appears in folio 56 (D16251; Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII 53), is currently unidentified. There is also a separate section of landscape on the lower right-hand side which belongs to the view on the opposite page, see folio 56 (D16251; Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII 53). This depicts the distant dome of St Peter’s and the tower of the Palazzo Senatorio on the Capitoline Hill, as seen from a position south of the city, near the present day Ponte Testaccio.

Nicola Moorby
September 2008

The others are St Peter’s, San Giovanni in Laterano and Santa Maria Maggiore.

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