Joseph Mallord William Turner

View of the Roman Campagna with the Ponte Nomentano and the Sedia del Diavolo


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 130 × 255 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXC 50

Catalogue entry

By the nineteenth century, exploration of the city’s environs had become as much part of the Roman experience as its architecture and monuments, and many of the views within this sketchbook appear to relate to a single perambulation through an area to the north of Rome, from Sant’Agnese fuori le mura to Ponte Sant’Angelo, by way of the Ponte Molle (for further information see the sketchbook introduction). This sketch depicts the countryside on the north-eastern outskirts of the city with a distant view of the Ponte Nomentano, an ancient bridge which spans the River Aniene approximately three miles north-east of the city walls. The bridge, with its eclectic fortifications crossing a central arch can be seen left of centre, whilst nearer the foreground on the far right-hand side is a ruined tomb known as the Sedia del Diavolo, see folio 39 (D16458; Turner Bequest CXC 44). Detailed studies of the Ponte Nomentano can be found in the Naples: Rome. C Studies sketchbook (see Tate D16127; Turner Bequest CLXXXVII 39). Turner’s viewpoint looks east towards the Sabine Hills with the River Aniene winding through the landscape in the direction of Tivoli.1 Like many drawings within this sketchbook, the composition has been executed over a washed grey background.
Compare to one of Richard Wilson’s ‘Dartmouth’ views, The Via Nomentana 1754 (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven) which shows the bridge and surrounding landscape from a different direction. Reproduced in David Solkin, Richard Wilson, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1982, no.171. See also contemporary oil sketches by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Johann Christoph Erhard and Carl Rottmann, in Peter Galassi, Corot in Italy: Open-Air Painting and the Classical-Landscape Tradition, New Haven and London 1991, pp.166–7.
Blank except for traces of grey watercolour

Nicola Moorby
June 2009

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