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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner The Roman Forum with the Temple of Venus and Roma, seen from the Arcades of the Colosseum 1819

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 16 Recto:
The Roman Forum with the Temple of Venus and Roma, seen from the Arcades of the Colosseum 1819
D16417
Turner Bequest CXC 16
Pencil and grey watercolour wash on white wove paper, 130 x 255 mm
Inscribed by ?John Ruskin with traces of red ink top right and by an unknown hand in pencil ‘16’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CXC 16’ bottom right
 
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
During his 1819 sojourn in Rome, Turner made numerous sketches in and around the Colosseum.1 This sketch depicts the view from just inside the interior of the famous amphitheatre looking towards the eastern end of the Forum. Turner’s viewpoint is on the western side of the arena, looking out from the ground floor corridor between the inner wall and the partially intact outer wall. The main focus of the composition seen through the arches is the ruined Temple of Venus and Roma. This vast structure dating from the second century AD is comprised of two shrines, one for each of the respective goddesses, which stand back to back at the eastern end of the Forum. It is the eastern facing apse of Venus with its coffered half-dome ceiling which faces the Colosseum. To the left of the Temple can be seen the Arch of Titus, and to the right is the bell-tower of Santa Francesca Romana and the vast ruins of the Basilica of Constantine and Maxentius. Like many drawings within this sketchbook, the composition has been executed over a washed grey background.
Related sketches of views seen from within the arcades of the Colosseum can be found on folios 15 verso and 19 (D16416 and D16421; Turner Bequest CXC 15a and 19), and in the Rome C. Studies sketchbook (Tate D16389; Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 58).

Nicola Moorby
May 2009

1
Nicola Moorby, ‘An Italian Treasury: Turner’s Sketchbooks’, in James Hamilton, Turner and Italy, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh 2009, p.115.

How to cite

Nicola Moorby, ‘The Roman Forum with the Temple of Venus and Roma, seen from the Arcades of the Colosseum 1819 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, May 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-roman-forum-with-the-temple-of-venus-and-roma-seen-from-r1132516, accessed 20 May 2024.