Joseph Mallord William Turner

View above Papigno with Distant View of Terni; also a Road amongst the Hills


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 110 x 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXVII 49 a

Catalogue entry

At Terni, Turner made a short detour from his route in order to visit the nearby Falls of Terni, or Cascata delle Marmore, an impressive waterfall created by the descent of the River Velino into the valley below. This sketch depicts the view above Papigno, a small village built on a hill en routebetween Terni and the Falls. In the background is a distant view of the skyline of Terni. A similar prospect was painted by Joseph August Knip (1777–1847), Veduta di Terni circa 1817 (Historisch Museum, Amsterdam),1 and the French artist Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796–1875) in an en plein-air oil sketch, Papigno: rives escarpées et boisées 1826 (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Valence). The view continues on the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 50 (D14750). The composition corresponds to Eustace’s description of the site in A Classical Tour Through Italy:
The upper road to the Caduta crosses a plain varied with olives, vines, and corn fields, and climbs the mountain through a defile, whose sides are clad with vines below, and with box and ilex above ... In the centre of the defile rises an isolated eminence, topped with the ruins of the village of Papignia destroyed by the French. Ascending still higher, you come to an angle, where the road is worked through the rock, and forming a very elevated terrace, gives you a view of Terni and its plain; of the dell below with the Nar; of the mountains around with their woods; and of the Velino itself, at a considerable distance, just bursting from the shade, and throwing itself down the steep.2
Turner made notes from this passage in the Italian Guide Book sketchbook (see Tate D13940; Turner Bequest CLXXII 5).
This page has also been used for a second sketch executed with the sketchbook held vertically as a notebook. This depicts a view amidst some mountains with a road winding around the side of a steep slope on the right. The location has not been identified but it probably represents somewhere in the vicinity of Terni and the Cascata delle Marmore.

Nicola Moorby
November 2008

Reproduced in colour in Anna Ottani Cavina, Un Paese Incantato: Italia Dipinta da Thomas Jones a Corot, exhibition catalogue, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais and Palazzo Te, Mantova, Italy 2001, p.84.
John Chetwode Eustace, A Classical Tour Through Italy, London 1815, vol.1, p.328.

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