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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner The So-Called Temple of Vesta and Temple of the Sibyl, Tivoli, seen from the Valley 1819

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 78 Verso:
The So-Called Temple of Vesta and Temple of the Sibyl, Tivoli, seen from the Valley 1819
Turner Bequest CLXXIX 77 a
Pencil on white wove paper, 112 x 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The subject of this sketch is the Temples of the Acropolis in Tivoli, seen from the river valley to the north-east of the town. The view looks up the steep sides of the gorge to the temples at the top: on the left, the circular so-called Temple of Vesta; and on the right, the rectangular Temple of the Sibyl, which until the end of the nineteenth century was incorporated within the Church of San Giorgio. A related sketch can be seen on folio 79 verso (D15076; Turner Bequest CLXXIX 78a), whilst more detailed views can be found within the Tivoli sketchbook (Tate D15485, D15511–D15512, D15550; Turner Bequest CLXXXIII 19, 43–4, 78) and in the Naples: Rome C. Studies sketchbook (Tate D16118 and D16146–D16147; Turner Bequest CLXXXVII 30 and 58–9).
For over two hundred years, the vista of the ancient ruined temples seen above the gorge with the nearby cascades of the River Aniene had been one of the most frequently depicted prospects in Tivoli.1 Compare a contemporaneous drawing by James Hakewill (1778–1843), Temple of the Sibyl, Tivoli (British School at Rome Library).2 Turner later developed his sketches and memories of the site within a vignette illustration for Rogers’s Italy, published in 1830 (see Tate D27683; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 166).

Nicola Moorby
February 2010

See for example views by Gaspard Dughet, in Anne French, Gaspard Dughet, called Gaspar Poussin 1615–75, exhibition catalogue, Kenwood, London 1980, nos.20 and 23, reproduced, and Thomas Jones and Francis Towne, reproduced in Francis W. Hawcroft, Travels in Italy 1776–1782: Based on the Memoirs of Thomas Jones, exhibition catalogue, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester 1988, nos.50 and 53.
Tony Cubberley and Luke Herrmann, Twilight of the Grand Tour: A Catalogue of the drawings by James Hakewill in the British School at Rome Library, Rome 1992, no.5.8, p.232, reproduced.

How to cite

Nicola Moorby, ‘The So-Called Temple of Vesta and Temple of the Sibyl, Tivoli, seen from the Valley 1819 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, February 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-the-so-called-temple-of-vesta-and-temple-of-the-sibyl-tivoli-r1137709, accessed 24 June 2022.