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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Osimo from the Road from Ancona, with the Towers of the Palazzo Comunale and Cathedral 1819

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 6 Recto:
Osimo from the Road from Ancona, with the Towers of the Palazzo Comunale and Cathedral 1819
Turner Bequest CLXXVII 6
Pencil on white wove paper, 110 x 186 mm
Inscribed by the artist in pencil ‘The first bit of Claude’ bottom left
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘6’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CLXXVII 6’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
After a sustained period of travel along the east coast from Rimini, Turner’s route towards Rome turned inland at Ancona and began to follow a south-westerly course towards the Apennine Mountains. Many of the urban settlements in this part of Italy were built upon high ground and Turner made a number of sketches of the hilltop towns and cities he glimpsed as he travelled through the landscape of the Marche region of Italy. The order of these drawings within the beginning of this sketchbook does not appear to follow a strict geographical sequence.
Cecilia Powell has identified the subject of this sketch as the hill town of Osimo, as seen from the road south of Ancona with the towers of the Palazzo Comunale and the cathedral. A similar view can be found on folio 7 (D14665).
The inscription in the bottom left-hand corner of the page, ‘The first bit of Claude’, commemorates a significant moment for Turner. It represents the first instance during his Italian tour in which the terrain through which he was passing reminded him of the work of his greatest artistic hero, the French landscape artist, Claude Lorrain (circa 1600–1682). Many of Turner’s preconceived notions regarding archetypal Italian scenery had been formed in relation to Claude’s idealised paintings and he continued to look for Claudian references throughout his travels in Umbria, the Alban Hills and the Roman campagna. See also Turner’s description of the colours and characteristics of the region on the inside front cover of this sketchbook (D40929) and another inscription in the Route to Rome sketchbook (Tate D13908; Turner Bequest CLXXI 26a).

Nicola Moorby
November 2008

How to cite

Nicola Moorby, ‘Osimo from the Road from Ancona, with the Towers of the Palazzo Comunale and Cathedral 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-osimo-from-the-road-from-ancona-with-the-towers-of-the-r1138825, accessed 30 May 2024.