Joseph Mallord William Turner

View of Tivoli, with the So-Called Temple of Vesta and the Cascatelli


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 35

Catalogue entry

This page contains a distant view of Tivoli seen from the road skirting the end of the valley to the north-east. Visible in the centre of the prospect is a medieval watch-tower positioned above the falls of the cascatelli (or cascatelle), the lesser cascades, whilst to the left is the so-called Temple of Vesta, a circular ruin dating from the first century BC, which stands on the edge of the gorge at the northern edge of the town, near the former falling point of the ‘Great Cascade’ of the River Aniene. In the far distance to the west is the flat plain of the Roman Campagna. Similar vistas can be seen on folios 2, 18, 22, 33, 34, 78, 80 (D15468, D15484, D15488, D15500, D15501, D15550, D15552), as well as the Tivoli and Rome sketchbook (Tate D15000–D15005 and D15092; Turner Bequest 40–42 verso and 86a), and in a watercolour study in the Naples: Rome C. Studies sketchbook (Tate D16116; Turner Bequest CLXXXVII 28). 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 delineate the silvery falls of the cascades and to add some detail to the sky.
Turner repeated this vista in the Roman and French sketchbook (Tate D21912; Turner Bequest CCXXXVII 35a), during his 1828 visit to Tivoli. The composition is also similar to that of an early oil painting, Tivoli and the Roman Campagna circa 1798 (Tate, N05512),1 which was itself based upon a version of a picture by the eighteenth-century Welsh artist, Richard Wilson (1713–1782), for example, Temple of the Sibyl and the Roman Campagna circa 1765–70 (Tate, T01706). Today, the same view of Tivoli is dominated by the great waterfall of the Villa Gregoriana, created by the diversion of the river away from the residential district after a devastating flood in 1826.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, no.44.
Blank, except for traces of grey watercolour wash

Nicola Moorby
February 2010

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