Joseph Mallord William Turner

View of Tivoli from the Valle d’Inferno, with the So-Called Temples of Vesta and the Sibyl


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 200 × 253 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXIII 43

Catalogue entry

This sketch depicts a view of Tivoli looking south-west from the river valley at the north-eastern tip of the town. Turner’s viewpoint is beneath the temples, from the steep wooded gorge known as the Valle d’Inferno (Valley of Hell). Dominating the top right-hand corner of the composition are the temples of the Acropolis: on the left, the circular so-called Temple of Vesta; and on the right, the rectangular Temple of the Sibyl, which until the end of the nineteenth century was incorporated within the Church of San Giorgio. On the left is one of the lesser cascades of the River Aniene. Similar views can be found on folio 44 (D15512), as well as in the Tivoli and Rome sketchbook (Tate D15076 and D15078; Turner Bequest CLXXIX 78a and 79a), and the Naples: Rome C. Studies sketchbook (Tate D16118 and D16146–D16147; Turner Bequest CLXXXVII 30 and 58–9).
Like many drawings within this sketchbook, the composition has been executed over a washed grey background. Turner has created highlights within the work by rubbing or lifting out the wash to reveal the white paper beneath, principally to depict the silvery streams of the falls and the structure of the Temple of Vesta.
Blank, except for traces of grey watercolour wash

Nicola Moorby
February 2010

Read full Catalogue entry

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