Joseph Mallord William Turner

View of Trinità dei Monti and the Spanish Steps, Rome, from the Villa Medici

1819

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 130 × 255 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D16402
Turner Bequest CXC 6 a

Catalogue entry

The subject of this sketch is the view from the Villa Medici on the Pincian Hill, looking south towards the Church of Trinità dei Monti and the Spanish Steps. Amongst the buildings in the background can be seen, from left to right: the Quirinal Palace; the church and bell-tower of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte; the Torre delle Milize; the dome of Santissimo Nome di Maria; and the Capitoline. This prospect was one of the most popular and spectacular in Rome and Turner had noted its significance in his notes from A Classical Tour Through Italy by Rev. John Chetwode Eustace, compiled in the Italian Guide Book sketchbook (see Tate D13944; CLXXII 7a).1 Similar views can be found in the Vatican Fragments sketchbook (Tate D15242; Turner Bequest CLXXX 77a), the St Peter’s sketchbook (Tate D16308; Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII 82a) and in the Roman C. Studies sketchbook (Tate D16331 and D16340; Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 5 and 14).
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 and scratching through the grey watercolour wash to reveal the white paper beneath.

Nicola Moorby
May 2009

1
See for example John ‘Warwick’ Smith, The Church of SS. Trinità dei Monti (British Museum), reproduced in colour in Francis W. Hawcroft, Travels in Italy 1776–1783: Based on the “Memoirs” of Thomas Jones, exhibition catalogue, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester 1988, no.35, pp.38–9.

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