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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Part of a View of ?Monti Lepini and Monte Circeo; and Study of a Roman Tomb at Mesa on the Via Appia 1819

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 13 Verso:
Part of a View of ?Monti Lepini and Monte Circeo; and Study of a Roman Tomb at Mesa on the Via Appia 1819
D15580
Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 13 a
Pencil on white wove paper, 122 x 197 mm
Inscribed by the artist in pencil ‘Roman [?workers] at tre ponte’ ascending left-hand edge
 
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The main sketch on this page appears to depict part of a view of the Monti Lepini (also known as the Volscian Mountains), from a point on the Via Appia in the Pontine marshes between Rome and Terracina. The composition continues on the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 14 (D15581) where the panoramic view leads round to the promontory of Monte Circeo.
On the left-hand side of the sheet, parallel with the edge, is a separate study of a cylindrical shaped ruin rising from a square base. This ancient Roman monument is a tomb, found at Mesa on the Via Appia approximately ten miles north-west of Terracina, and attributed through an inscription to Clesippo Geganio.1 As a related sketch by Turner shows, it stood near to the village’s eighteenth-century post-house, and can still be seen today, see folio 13 (D15579).2 The sepulchre had also been depicted by the vedute artist, Carlo Labruzzi (1748–1817), in a plate entitled, La via Appia attraverso le Paludi Pontine.3 Labruzzi accompanied Turner’s patron, Sir Richard Colt Hoare, on a tour of the Via Appia in 1789. Further views of Mesa can be seen on folio 14 verso (D15582).
Also on this part of the page is a thumbnail study of two men. Turner’s accompanying inscription suggests that he observed these local figures at nearby Tor Tre Ponti (also known as Treponti), another post-stage on the Via Appia, eleven miles north of Mesa. For related drawings see folios 14 verso (D15582), and also in the Vatican Fragments sketchbook (Tate D15110; Turner Bequest CLXXX 3a) and Naples, Paestum, Rome sketchbook (Tate D15974; Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 32).

Nicola Moorby
April 2010

1
See Susanna La Pera Buranelli and Rita Turchetti (eds.), Sulla Via Appia da Roma a Brindisi: le fotografie di Thomas Ashby 1891–1925, Rome 2003, p.134, reproduced fig.76.1.
3
Reproduced in colour in Adriano La Regina, Giulio Volpe, Francesco Scoppola et al., Via Appia sulle Ruine della Magnificenze Antica, Venice 1997, p.159.

How to cite

Nicola Moorby, ‘Part of a View of ?Monti Lepini and Monte Circeo; and Study of a Roman Tomb at Mesa on the Via Appia 1819 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, April 2010, 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-part-of-a-view-of-monti-lepini-and-monte-circeo-and-study-of-r1138042, accessed 20 May 2024.