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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner View of Tivoli from the Valley 1819

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 26 Recto:
View of Tivoli from the Valley 1819
Turner Bequest CLXXXIII 26
Pencil and grey watercolour wash on white wove paper, 200 x 253 mm
Inscribed by ?John Ruskin in red ink ‘26’ bottom left, descending left-hand edge
Stamped in black ‘CLXXXIII 26’ bottom left, descending left-hand edge
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner’s exploration of Tivoli included a large number of landscape sketches drawn from the river valley to the north. He was particularly attracted by the spectacle of the town’s ancient ruins perched above the steep, wooded gorge and streaming waterfalls. This drawing depicts a view from the floor of the valley looking east, with the town silhouetted along the brow of the hill above. Visible landmarks include from left to right: a medieval watch-tower; the substructures supporting the Piazza dell’Olmo (present-day Piazza Domenico Tani); the campanile of the Cathedral (Duomo) of San Lorenzo; the Santuario di Ercole Vincitore (Sanctuary of Hercules Victor), a ruined Roman temple formerly known as the Villa of Maecenas; the Villa d’Este and the adjacent campanile of the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore; and on the lower slopes to the right of the Villa d’Este, a small domed structure known as the so-called Tempio della Tosse. Turner’s viewpoint is from an olive grove on the opposite side of the valley, near to the Ponte dell’Acquoria, an ancient Roman bridge which carried the ancient Via Tiburtina over the River Aniene. The arches of another crossing are visible in the central foreground. Today the area is dominated by an electrical power plant. Similar views can be seen on folios 7, 8, 16, 21 and 41–41a (D15473, D15474, D15482, D15487 and D15508–D15509), and in the Tivoli and Rome sketchbook (Tate D15033; Turner Bequest CLXXIX 57 verso). For a full description of the Santuario di Ercole Vincitore and further studies see folio 5 (D15471).
Like many drawings within this sketchbook, the composition has been executed over a washed grey background. Turner has created highlights within the work by rubbing or lifting out the wash to reveal the white paper beneath, principally to depict the river and the suggestion of foliage in the wooded slopes in the foreground.
Blank, except for traces of grey watercolour wash
Inscribed by ?John Ruskin in red ink ‘345’ bottom left

Nicola Moorby
February 2010

How to cite

Nicola Moorby, ‘View of Tivoli 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-view-of-tivoli-from-the-valley-r1137769, accessed 19 May 2024.