Turner made sketches of Pompeii’s Via dei Sepolcri (Street of the Tombs) from a number of different angles. This study depicts a section of the southern stretch of the road (right-hand side as you look towards the city walls and the Porta Ercolano) from a position of higher ground on the opposite side in front of a series of ruined shop arcades. The identifiable monuments include, from left to right, the Tomb of Tyche, the Tomb of Scauro (with the door in front), the anonymous round tomb, the Tomb of Calventius Quietus and the Tomb of Naevoleia Tyche. Many of these also appear within other drawings see folios 5–6 (D15746–D15748). Visible in the background meanwhile is a distant view of the sea and the Sorrentine peninsula.
During the early nineteenth century the Via dei Sepolcri was one of the most impressive and fully excavated sections of the Pompeii site, and consequently it was a popular subject for topographical artists. For similar vistas to this sketch compare, for example, an engraving dating from 1817 by Charles Heath, ‘Pompeii. Tomb of Scarus’, which later appeared in Sir William Gell’s famous publication, Pompeiana: The Topography, Edifices and Ornaments of Pompeii, 1 and an engraving after an 1817 drawing by James Pattinson Cockburn (1779–1847).2
Further sketches of the Via dei Sepolcri can be found on folios 7–10 (D15750–D15755). For a general discussion of Turner’s visit to Pompeii see the introduction to the sketchbook.
‘Pompeii. Tomb of Scarus’, engraved by Charles Heath, published 1817, reproduced in Sir William Gell and Joseph Gandy, Pompeiana: The Topography, Edifices, and Ornaments of Pompeii, London 1824, vol.I, pl.8, between pp.118–19.
The composition is virtually identical to the engraving after an 1817 drawing by Major Cockburn, ‘Street of the Tombs. Taken near the Arcade in Front of Shops’, in Pompeii, Illustrated with Picturesque Views, Engraved by W.B. Cooke, from the Original Drawings of Liet. Col. Cockburn, of the Royal Artillery, vol.II, London 1827, pl.34, between pp.22–3.
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