Joseph Mallord William Turner

Via dei Sepolcri, Pompeii, with the Porta Ercolano; Also a Distant View of Vesuvius


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 CLXXXV 7

Catalogue entry

Turner made a thorough exploration of the famous archaeological site of Pompeii, recording his observations in over forty sketches of various parts of the ruins. The main study on this page represents a view of the Via dei Sepolcri (Street of the Tombs) looking east towards the Porta Ercolano (Herculaneum Gate), the main point of entry into the north-west of the city from Herculaneum and Rome. The two monuments visible on the left-hand side of the vista represent the covered seat of a hemicycle (left) and a tomb of an unknown person, decorated with garland reliefs (right). At the top of the page the artist has made thumbnail sketches of details of the decorative reliefs from the two structures (now almost totally destroyed). Further studies of capitals can be seen on folio 8 (D15751). In the bottom left-hand corner of this sheet is a separate drawing. This represents a view from the same vantage point, looking west down the Via dei Sepolcri with Vesuvius in the distance.
Further sketches of the Via dei Sepolcri can be found on folios 5–6 verso, 8, 9–10 (D15746–D15749, D15751, D15753–D15755). For a general discussion of Turner’s visit to Pompeii see the introduction to the sketchbook.

Nicola Moorby
September 2010

Read full Catalogue entry

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