Joseph Mallord William (after James Hakewill) Turner

Forum Romanum

Turner made his first trip to Italy in August 1819. The year before, having never seen the country, he had been commissioned to make watercolours after drawings by the architect James Hakewill for publication in Hakewill's "A Picturesque Tour of Italy" (1818-20). Using Hakewill's precise renderings of the buildings in the Forum, Turner gave the scene its rich atmosphere and added figure groups observing excavations (indicating his awareness of recent archaeological activity in Rome). The Tabularium and tower of the Palazzo dei Senatori provide a backdrop to the scene. Below, in a line, are the Temple of Saturn, the Temple of Vespasian, the Column of Phocas, the Arch of Septimius Severus, and the church of SS. Martina e Luca, with the façade of San Giuseppe dei Falegnami visible between the last two. In the foreground are the three columns of the Temple of Castor and Pollux (consecrated in 484 B.C.). To the left is the façade of Santa Maria Liberatrice, built in the 13th century but destroyed in 1899 to expose the remains of the earlier church of Santa Maria Antiqua, the oldest and most important Christian church in the Forum.
Forum Romanum
watercolour over traces of graphite on wove paper, laid down on wove paper
14 x 21.6 cm
Credit line
Gift of F.J. Nettlefold, Nutley, Sussex, England, 1948
Accession number