Joseph Mallord William Turner

View from Monte Testaccio, Rome, with the Aurelian Walls; and a Distant View of the Caelian Hill


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 CXCI 6 a

Catalogue entry

Turner made a series of drawings from the high vantage point of Monte Testaccio, an artificial hill in southern Rome constructed from a Roman pottery dump, see folios 6 verso–8 verso (D16495–D16499). This sketch records part of the view looking east. The line of arches in the foreground is part of a stretch of the Aurelian Walls which ran from the Porta San Paolo to the River Tiber and could still be seen during the nineteenth century. However, they no longer survive today and the area is now a built-up industrial and residential district. In the far distance can be seen the small round tower of the Tomb of Cecilia Metella on the Via Appia Antica and the line of the Alban Hills dominating the horizon beyond. The panorama continues on the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 7 (D16496).
There is a second drawing executed on along the foredge of the page with the sketchbook held vertically as a notebook. This sketch is also a view from Monte Testaccio, but in this instance looks north-east towards the Caelian Hill with the Churches of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Santo Stefano Rotondo and the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano just identifiable.

Nicola Moorby
February 2009

Read full Catalogue entry

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