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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner The Colosseum and Santi Giovanni e Paolo from the Palatine, Rome 1819

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 43 Verso:
The Colosseum and Santi Giovanni e Paolo from the Palatine, Rome 1819
Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 43 a
Pencil and watercolour on white wove paper, 229 x 368 mm
Inscribed by an unknown hand in black pen and ink ‘60’ encircled, bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The Palatine Hill was one of the most popular vantage points in Rome and Turner made a large number of studies from the location, recording views of the city seen in all directions. This sketch depicts the panoramic prospect seen from the eastern side, near the Domus Augustana. On the left is the Colosseum and in the foreground are parts of the ruins of the Palatine including a surviving section of the Claudian Aqueduct. The most detailed part of the drawing is the Caelian Hill on the right. Here Turner has carefully documented an accurate description of the topography including the rounded apse and bell-tower of the Church of San Giovanni e Paolo, the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano in the distance beyond, and, on the far right-hand side of the page, a partial view of the façade of San Gregorio Magno al Celio. Although the composition has been executed almost entirely in pencil, Turner has added small touches of blue and grey watercolour to the Colosseum, giving it the beginnings of some tonal depth.
Similar related views can be found on folio 54 verso (D16384) and two other coloured studies now detached from this sketchbook (D16345, D16366; CLXXXIX 19, 39). Another view of San Giovanni e Paolo seen from a more southerly location also appears in the bottom right-hand corner of another sheet (D16348; CLXXXIX 22).

Nicola Moorby
July 2009

How to cite

Nicola Moorby, ‘The Colosseum and Santi Giovanni e Paolo from the Palatine, Rome 1819 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, July 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-the-colosseum-and-santi-giovanni-e-paolo-from-the-palatine-r1132431, accessed 29 May 2022.