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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner The North End of the Forum, Rome 1819

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 58 Recto:
The North End of the Forum, Rome 1819
Turner Bequest CLXXXII 57
Pencil on white wove paper, 113 x 189 mm
Inscribed by the artist in pencil ‘Red front | Blue Behind’ bottom left, to right of female figure
Inscribed by John Ruskin in blue ink ‘57’ top right and ‘301’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CLXXXII 57’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner thoroughly explored the Roman Forum (Campo Vaccino) and made numerous sketches from various angles. This view of the north end is drawn from an area of high ground in the western corner with the Temple of Vespasian in the foreground on the left and the Temple of Saturn on the right. In the centre is the Arch of Septimius Severus, which in Turner’s day was still only partially excavated, whilst in the background is the Baroque dome and façade of the Church of Santi Luca e Martina.
The high viewpoint of the sketch is similar to that composed by Turner for his later oil painting, Modern Rome – Campo Vaccino exhibited 1839 (private collection, on loan to the National Gallery of Scotland).1 Very few studies of the Forum appear in the sketchbooks from Turner’s 1828 visit to Rome so he would certainly have referred to his 1819 drawings when painting the picture. The pose of the female figure in the bottom left-hand corner of the sketch also bears some resemblance to the girl standing in the left-hand foreground of the painting wearing a white blouse and yellow skirt.
For a general discussion of the Forum and further studies see folio 32 (D15355).

Nicola Moorby
May 2008

Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, no.379.

How to cite

Nicola Moorby, ‘The North End of the Forum, Rome 1819 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, May 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-the-north-end-of-the-forum-rome-r1132700, accessed 19 September 2019.