By the nineteenth century, exploration of the city’s environs had become as much part of the Roman experience as its architecture and monuments. Turner made a large number of studies of the landscape north of Rome, and many of the views within this sketchbook appear to relate to a single perambulation from Sant’Agnese fuori le mura to Ponte Sant’Angelo, by way of the ancient Ponte Molle, also known as the Ponte Milvio (for further information see the sketchbook introduction). The subject of this sketch is the view of the River Tiber looking north (or upstream) from a point near present-day Ponte del Risorgiemento. In the centre of the composition is the small sixteenth century chapel of Sant’Andrea in Via Flaminia, also known as Sant’Andrea del Vignola after its architect, Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola (1507–73). The church or tempio, which has an elliptical dome over a square base was commissioned by Pope Julius II to celebrate his escape from imprisonment during the 1527 Sack of Rome. The viewpoint of Turner’s sketch is similar to that of a painting by Gaspar van Wittel (1653–1736), Passonata del Tevere fuori Porta del Popolo circa 1678 (Gabinetto Nazionale dei Disegni e delle Stampa, Rome).1 The building can also be seen in folios 51 and 52 (D16473 and D16474; Turner Bequest CXC 57 and 58).
Finberg titled this drawing Claude’s Villa, after a building traditionally associated with the seventeenth-century French master, Claude Lorrain, described by Augustus Hare in Walks in Rome:
Nearly opposite the Casino Papa Guilio, on the further bank of the Tiber, was the picturesque classic Villa of Claude Lorraine, whither he was wont to retire during the summer months ... This villa was best seen from the walk by the river-side, which is reached by turning at once to the left on coming out of the Porta del Popolo. Hence it makes a good foreground to the view of the city and distant heights of the Janiculan. Modern buildings have spoilt the beauty since 1880, and a great portion of the villa itself has been wantonly destroyed.2
Reproduced in Jörg Garms, Vedute di Roma Dal Medioevo all’ottocento: Atlante iconographico, topografico, architettorio, Naples 1995, L.52, p.504. See also a watercolour by John ‘Warwick’ Smith, A View of the Via Flaminia, not dated (Thomas Ashby Collection, Vatican Library), reproduced in Raymond Keaveney, Views of Rome from the Thomas Ashby Collection in the Vatican Library, exhibition catalogue, Smithsonian Institution, Washington 1988, no.58, p., reproduced in colour.
Augustus Hare, Walks in Rome, vol.2, London 1897, p.289.
Peter Levi, Edward Lear: A Biography, London 1995, p.127.
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- townscape, distant(8,119)
- River Tiber(115)