Joseph Mallord William Turner

View of the Colosseum and the Basilica of Constantine from the Palatine Hill, Rome


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 229 x 368 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 62 a

Catalogue entry

The Palatine Hill was one of the most popular vantage points in Rome and Turner made a large number of studies from the location, recording prospects of the city seen in all directions. This faint sketch depicts the prospect seen from the Farnese Gardens (Orti Farnesina) near the sixteenth-century aviaries on the northern side of the hill. Turner’s view looks north-east across the Forum towards the Colosseum which dominates the right-hand side of the composition. On the far left are the vast remains of the Basilica of Constantine and Maxentius, whilst in between these two monuments can be seen the bell-tower of Santa Francesca Romana and the two domes of Santa Maria Maggiore. In the immediate right-hand foreground can be seen part of the stairway leading to the aviaries. Related views can be found on other pages from this sketchbook (see Tate D16346, D16356, D16369 and D16382; Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 20, 30, 42 and 53). The design is also similar to one drawn by James Hakewill in 1817, Rome. Temple of Peace from the Orti Farnesina (British School at Rome Library) which Turner would have undoubtedly known from his work on Hakewill’s Picturesque Tour, just before his 1819 trip to Rome.1
Tony Cubberley and Luke Herrmann, Twilight of the Grand Tour: A Catalogue of the Drawings by James Hakewill in the British School at Rome Library, Rome 1992, no.3.20, p.201 reproduced.
Blank except for grey watercolour wash; inscribed by an unknown hand in pencil ‘clxxxix’ bottom right, and stamped in black ‘CLXXXIX 62a’ bottom right.

Nicola Moorby
October 2009

Read full Catalogue entry

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