Joseph Mallord William Turner

View from the East of the Pyramid of Cestius and the Porta San Paolo, Rome


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 CLXXXII 45 a

Catalogue entry

This inverted sketch represents a view of Rome from the east with the Pyramid of Cestius, and the Porta San Paolo (formerly called the Porta Ostiense). The uneven line of crenellations across the middle ground denotes the perimeter of the Aurelian Walls and the small hill in the background is the Monte Testaccio. In addition to his customary pencil work, the artist has used touches of red chalk to denote areas of brickwork. This could have either been added on the spot or at a later date. It may however, indicate that Turner used some sketchbooks simultaneously during his perambulations around Rome. Chalk can also be found on another sketch within this book, see folio 70 (D15429, CLXXXII 69).
Further sketches of the Pyramid of Cestius can be found on folios 42–42 verso (D15374–D15375). See also the Rome and Florence sketchbook (Tate D16500; Turner Bequest CXCI 9).

Nicola Moorby
May 2008

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