Joseph Mallord William Turner

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


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 200 x 253 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXIII 80

Catalogue entry

This page contains a distant view of Tivoli seen from the road skirting the end of the valley to the north-east. Turner’s viewpoint may be the Convent of Sant’Antonio, also known as the Villa d’Orazio (Villa of Horace).1 Monte Catillo rises on the left-hand of the prospect, whilst visible in the centre 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. The adjacent campanile to the right belongs to the Church of San Giorgio, which until the end of the nineteenth century incorporated the remains of another ancient edifice, the so-called Temple of the Sibyl. Silhouetted against the horizon on the far right-hand side meanwhile is a medieval watch-tower positioned above the falls of the cascatelli, or lesser cascades. Similar vistas from the end of the valley can be seen on folios 2, 18, 22, 33, 34, 35, 78 (D15468, D15488, D15488, D15500, D15501, D15502, D15550), 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). 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.
Like many drawings within this sketchbook, the composition has been executed over a washed grey background and Turner has created highlights by rubbing or lifting out the wash to reveal the white paper beneath.
See the photograph of Temple of Vesta with Convent of Sant’Antonio in the background, in Thomas Ashby, ‘Roman Remains in the Monastery of S. Antonio in Tivoli’, in Journal of Roman Studies, vol.4, 1914, pl.XIX.
Blank, except for traces of grey watercolour wash

Nicola Moorby
February 2010

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