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
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

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.
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.