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: 255 × 403 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXVII 58

Catalogue entry

This sketch depicts a view of Tivoli 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). Just visible in 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. A related study can be seen on folio 59 (D16147) and similar views can also be found in the Tivoli and Rome sketchbook (Tate D15076 and D15078; Turner Bequest CLXXIX 78a and 79a), and the Tivoli sketchbook (Tate D15511–D15512; Turner Bequest CLXXXIII 43–4).
Turner has exploited the dark washed grey ground of this page to create a swift study of the cascades. He has rendered the impression of falling water and fine spray by rubbing or lifting out the watercolour wash to reveal the white paper beneath. Soft, dark pencil-work provides the suggestion of rocks and foliage. Similar naturalistic effects can be found throughout the Tivoli sketchbook (Tate; Turner Bequest CLXXXIII).
Technical notes:
The Naples, Rome C. Studies sketchbook was partially rebound in 1935. This leaf was perhaps originally folio 56 (see the concordance in the introduction).
Blank except for traces of grey watercolour wash; inscribed by an unknown hand in pencil [?M] bottom right, ascending right-hand edge and by an unknown hand in blue ink ‘95’ bottom right, descending right-hand edge.

Nicola Moorby
March 2010

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like

In the shop