Joseph Mallord William Turner

View of Recanati from the West; and Two Sketches of the Roman Remains at Helvia Recina


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 110 × 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXVII 18

Catalogue entry

After visiting the city of Loreto, Turner’s route took him south-west towards the Apennine Mountains. The subject of the landscape in the top left-hand corner of this page is the small hill town of Recanati, the next location of note approximately three miles south-west of Loreto, best known as the birthplace of Turner’s contemporary, the Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi (1798–1837). The sketch depicts Recanati from the west with the medieval Torre del Borgo in the centre. A similar view can be seen on the preceding page, see folio 17 verso (D14686).
The road between Recanati and the town of Macerata wound directly past the remains of the ancient Roman settlement of Helvia Recina, near the banks of the River Potenza. Destroyed by the Visigoths in the fifth or sixth centuries the area today is comprised of a ruined water tank, some tombs, a stretch of paved road and the remains of a curved amphitheatre. Turner’s sketches in the top right and the lower half of the page depict the crumbling arches of the theatre which he has labelled ‘Rescina’. In the middle distance can be seen the same medieval tower which appears on folios 9 verso (D14670) and folio 19 (D14689), probably the Torre del Mulino in present-day Villa Potenza. Meanwhile, in the far distance of the lower sketch can be seen Macerata. In the top right-hand corner is a diagrammatic plan of the layout of the site. Further sketches can also be found on folio 19 (D14689).

Nicola Moorby
November 2008

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