Joseph Mallord William Turner

View of Rome from the River Tiber, with the Ponte Rotto


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 43

Catalogue entry

The ruined Ponte Rotto (Broken Bridge), formerly the ancient Ponte Aemilius, sits on the River Tiber to the south of the Isola Tiberina, adjacent to the modern Ponte Palatino. Today there is just one arch remaining as a freestanding island in the river but Turner’s sketch shows at least three full arches still in existence linking the bridge to the Trastevere (right) bank. The tower visible in the centre is the campanile of San Bartolomeo all’Isola, whilst behind this to the left are the Baroque domes of two churches. The foremost of these with the visible triangular topped façade, was identified by Finberg as San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, although in fact it is the Church of San Carlo ai Catinari. Beyond this is the similar, but not identical dome of San Andrea della Valle. Turner recorded a similar view during his 1828 sojourn in Rome but with greater scope and detail (see Tate D14839–D14840; CLXXVIII 4a–5). These drawings later formed the basis of a finished oil painting, Rome, from Mount Aventine exhibited 1836 (Earl of Rosebery, on loan to the National Gallery of Scotland).1
The view continues on the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, with the distant dome of St Peter’s. It has been partially drawn over by Turner as part of another sketch of the Aurelian Walls near the Pyramid of Cestius, see folio 42 verso (D15375). Furthermore, Turner has also extended the view to the east on a sheet overleaf, including the Capitoline Hill, see folio 44 (D15378). For other sketches of the Ponte Rotto see the St Peter’s sketchbook (Tate D16249–D16250; Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII 52–52a) and the Rome and Florence sketchbook (Tate D16490; Turner Bequest CXCI 4).

Nicola Moorby
May 2008

Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, no.366.

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