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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner The Village of Mesa on the Via Appia, with the Post-House and Monte Circeo in the Distance 1819

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 13 Recto:
The Village of Mesa on the Via Appia, with the Post-House and Monte Circeo in the Distance 1819
Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 13
Pencil on white wove paper, 122 x 197 mm
Inscribed by ?John Ruskin in blue ink ‘281’ bottom right and ‘13’ top right
Stamped in black ‘CLXXXIV 13’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This sketch depicts Mesa on the Via Appia, approximately ten miles north-west of Terracina. According to various contemporary sources, the village was the site of an eighteenth-century post-house where people could stop and rest or change the horses,1 and this is the large, rather grand building visible on the right-hand side of the road.2 Like many other tourists travelling post, Turner could have broken the journey between Rome and Naples here. To the immediate left of the post station is a cylindrical-shaped ruin rising from a square base, which is an ancient Roman tomb attributed by inscription to Clesippo Geganio.3 Further views of Mesa, including a study of this sepulchre, can be seen on folios 13 verso and 14 verso (D15580 and D15582).
In the distance on the right is the distinctive promontory of Monte Circeo, the profile of which dominates the view ahead during the straight thirty-mile stretch of road between Velletri and Terracina. For a contemporary description of the landscape in this part of Italy see folio 12 verso (D15578).

Nicola Moorby
April 2010

See for example, John Chetwode Eustace, A Classical Tour Through Italy, London 1821, 6th edition, vol.II, pp.302–3, Sir Richard Colt Hoare, A Classical Tour in Italy and Sicily, London 1819, vol.I, p.98, and Henry Coxe, A Picture of Italy, London first pub 1815, 2nd ed 1818, p.309.
Compare elements of the present-day building at http://www.straderomane.it/it/dove/lazio/punti/lazio_G5_02_02.htm.
See Colt Hoare 1819, p.98, and Susanna La Pera Buranelli and Rita Turchetti (eds), Sulla Via Appia da Roma a Brindisi: le fotografie di Thomas Ashby 1891–1925, Rome 2003, p.134, reproduced fig.76.1.

How to cite

Nicola Moorby, ‘The Village of Mesa on the Via Appia, with the Post-House and Monte Circeo in the Distance 1819 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, April 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-village-of-mesa-on-the-via-appia-with-the-post-house-and-r1138041, accessed 21 June 2024.