Joseph Mallord William Turner

View of the River Arno, Florence, with the Ponte alle Grazie; and Part of a View from Ossaia

1819

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 113 × 189 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D16546
Turner Bequest CXCI 33

Catalogue entry

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, one of the most popular experiences for English visitors to Florence was to walk along the streets which lined the banks of the River Arno, known as the lungarni.1 Many of Turner’s sketches of the city depict views taken from these riverside thoroughfares. The study on the left-hand side of this page represents part of a prospect from the northern bank near present-day Piazza Piave and Ponte San Niccolò, looking downstream (west) towards Ponte alle Grazie.2 During Turner’s day this historic bridge was punctuated by buildings over the supporting piers, but these were removed during the late nineteenth century and the crossing itself destroyed during the Second World War. Rising beyond the bridge is the campanile of the Basilica of Santo Spirito. The composition spills over onto the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 32 verso (D16545). A related vista can be seen on folios 60a–61 (D16586–D16587).

Also on the page is a rough landscape sketch which appears to be the continuation of the composition on folio 29 (D16539). The artist has folded back the intervening pages in order to extend the vista on this sheet beneath. As his inscription indicates, the details represent part of a view from Ossaia, a village to the south of Cortona on the nineteenth-century route between Rome and Florence.

Nicola Moorby
December 2010

1
Powell 1987, p.94.
2
First identified by Powell 1984, p.429, as ‘Florence from the lungarno near Ponte S. Niccolò’. The Ponte San Niccolò was built in 1836–7.

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