Turner in January 2012

  • 1st − 31st January 2012 | Scottish National Gallery

Major new acquisition

The National Galleries of Scotland is delighted to announce a major new acquisition, Rome from Monte Mario (1820) by J.M.W. Turner. Rome from Monte Mario strengthens this annual display of watercolours, illustrating an aspect of the artist’s work not previously represented.

Turner was perhaps the most prolific and innovative of all British artists and his skills have been much admired ever since his lifetime. Rome from Monte Mario is one of his finest watercolours and was made after his first visit to Rome, between August 1819 and February 1820. Turner was delighted and overwhelmed by the trip: the ancient remains, profusion of Renaissance and Baroque buildings, and splendour of the city’s setting fired his imagination.

This delicate and sophisticated work was created as part of a set of Italian scenes for his friend and patron Walter Fawkes (1769-1825). The view Turner chose for the watercolour is unusual and highly ambitious. He depicted the city at sunset, looking in a south-easterly direction from just below the top of Monte Mario. On the right is the dome of St Peter’s; just to the right of the centre of the composition is the Castel Sant’ Angelo, and further to the left the Campidoglio. The Via Angelico is the road that cuts across the fields in the foreground and is flanked by smoke from bonfires, curling up into the golden evening light. An idyllic image of a boy playing pipes to a demure girl in the forefront completes the scene.