Joseph Mallord William Turner

View the Villa d’Este, Tivoli, looking towards the Rometta Fountain


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 112 × 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXIX 11 a

Catalogue entry

Turner made several studies of the Villa d’Este, a sixteenth-century villa and formal Renaissance garden built for Cardinal Ippolito d’Este (1509–1572), the son of Lucrezia Borgia. This sketch depicts a view from a point above the Fountain of the Dragons, near the central axis of the estate, looking south-west towards the irregular turret-like forms of the Rometta Fountain, a water feature decorated with symbols and models of Rome. Two figures appear to be descending the steps leading down towards the lower terraces. Above the gardens on the left-hand side of the scene is the façade of the casino with the Gran Loggia at the right, whilst the centre of the drawing is dominated by a cluster of cypress trees, reputed to be the largest and oldest in Italy. The viewpoint of the composition is very similar that of a near-contemporaneous drawing by James Hakewill (1778–1843), Tivoli. Villa Estense 1817 (British School at Rome Library), Turner’s collaborator on Picturesque Views in Italy (published 1820).1
For a full discussion of Turner’s sketches of the Villa d’Este see folio 5 verso (D14942).

Nicola Moorby
January 2010

Tony Cubberley and Luke Herrmann, Twilight of the Grand Tour: A Catalogue of the drawings by James Hakewill in the British School at Rome Library, Rome 1992, no.5.10, reproduced p.235.

Read full Catalogue entry

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