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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Ruins on the Palatine Hill, Rome 1819

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 54 Recto:
Ruins on the Palatine Hill, Rome 1819
Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 54
Pencil and grey watercolour wash on white wove ‘Whatman’ paper, 229 x 368 mm
Inscribed by the artist in pencil ‘wa’ bottom centre along wall
Inscribed by an unknown hand in pencil ‘clxxxix 54’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CLXXXIX 54’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The subject of this sketch is part of the ancient ruins of the Palatine Hill in Rome.1 Turner appears to have been standing at a point near the site of the Septizodium Severi on the south-eastern side of the hill, possibly on the steps of the Church of San Gregorio Magno al Celio. The left-hand side of the composition is dominated by the substructures of the Palace of Septimius Severus, whilst in the centre at the top is the crumbling exedra of the Hippodromus Palatii (also known as the Stadium of Domitian), part of the Domus Augustana. The series of arches in the forgeground on the right represent part of the remains of the Acqua Claudia which stand next to present-day Via di San Gregorio. Like many drawings within this sketchbook, the composition has been executed over a washed grey background and Turner has created areas of pale highlights by rubbing or lifting through to the white paper beneath.
Turner made a similar related sketches of the Palatine ruins in the Small Roman C. Studies sketchbook (see D16418–D16419, D16422 and D16457; Turner Bequest CXC 16a–17, 20 and 43), and in the Albano, Nemi, Rome sketchbook (Tate D15391; Turner Bequest CLXXXII 50).

Nicola Moorby
October 2009

Compare with the left-hand side of the composition, The Palatine with the Church of San Bonaventura, by an anonymous eighteenth century artist, in Raymond Keaveney, Views of Rome from the Thomas Ashby Collection in the Vatican Library, exhibition catalogue, Smithsonian Institution, Washington 1988, no.17, reproduced p.[101].

How to cite

Nicola Moorby, ‘Ruins on the Palatine Hill, Rome 1819 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, October 2009, 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-ruins-on-the-palatine-hill-rome-r1132440, accessed 26 January 2022.