J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Four Sketches in the Apennine Mountains 1819

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 29 Verso:
Four Sketches in the Apennine Mountains 1819
Turner Bequest CLXXVII 29 a
Pencil on white wove paper, 110 x 186 mm
Inscribed by the artist in pencil ‘Pieva’ top left and ‘Rock’ along left-hand edge and ‘[...]iamo’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Part of Turner’s route to Rome from Ancona took him through the passage of the Apennines between Tolentino and Foligno. The precise location of the four sketches on this page is unidentified but they probably represent views seen amidst the mountains after the town of Serravalle dei Chienti. Turner was already familiar with Eustace’s account of the terrain in A Classical Tour Through Italy (see the Italian Guide Book sketchbook, Tate D13939; Turner Bequest CLXXII 4a):
above Serravalle, you reach the highest point of the mountains that intersect the Via Flaminia, and the road from Ancona to Rome. On the sides of the mountains you see villages and cottages, the greatest part of which look bleak and miserable, and in the midst of the plain, graze numerous flocks of sheep and cattle. There is, however, an appearance of loneliness about the place, that excites in the traveller’s mind, ideas of danger ... On quitting the plain you wind along the mountain with a lake on your right, and passing an eminence, begin to descend the declivity of Colfiorito represented more dangerous than it really is, because, though the precipice be steep and abrupt, the road is good and winding along the side of the hill descends on an easy slope. Through the deep dell that borders the road, a streamlet murmurs along, and gradually increasing becomes a river, which, in the plain below, falls into the Clitumnus. The little post of Casenuove forms the first stage of the descent, which continues with little or no intermission to the neighbourhood of Foligno.1
Like Eustace’s description, Turner’s sketches depict villages and buildings amidst the steep slopes of the mountains.

Nicola Moorby
November 2008

John Chetwode Eustace, A Classical Tour Through Italy, London 1815, vol.I, pp.311–15.

How to cite

Nicola Moorby, ‘Four Sketches in the Apennine Mountains 1819 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, November 2008, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-four-sketches-in-the-apennine-mountains-r1138872, accessed 05 March 2021.