J.M.W.Turner’s Masterpiece Modern Rome J.M.W.Turner’s Masterpiece Modern Rome – Campo Vaccino To Be Offered For Sale at Sotheby’s in July Undoubtedly One of the
Most Important Turners Ever To Come to Auction --Exceptional Condition-
For the painting, Turner has taken as his viewpoint the top of Capitoline Hill and from here he depicts a scene that
unfolds as the spectator’s eye first engages with the Forum, flanked by the Arch of Septimus Severus, the Temple of Saturn and the Coliseum. Beyond the distinctive shapes of those familiar buildings, the great arches of Diocletian’s Baths come in to focus on the left of the view and the distant landscape around the city captures the silhouette of St John Lateran clearly visible on the skyline. The dreamlike vista combines and presents us with the glories of the past; classical antiquity (with the remains of ancient Rome), the Rome of the Renaissance and Baroque and the seat of the Papacy while daily contemporary 19th-century life in the city -with its goatherds, religious processions and people simply attending to their business – takes place in the foreground.
Modern Rome – Campo Vaccino’s state of preservation is truly exceptional; never relined and never subject to repair or restoration, the picture retains the freshness of the moment it was painted to a remarkable degree. David Moore-Gwyn states: “The condition of this painting is one of its most amazing attributes. It is outstanding and helps to highlight the genius of Turner by revealing the various techniques that he employed: the cross hatching of dry paint, the thinning out of the paintwork, the working with the bristles of his brush, the array of paint textures and the subtle nuances of colour he uses. These remarkable workings are clearly evident to the eye.”
The painting’s first owner was the Scottish landowner and collector Hugh Munro of Novar, Turner’s close friend and
supportive patron during the 1830’s, who acquired the work directly from the artist’s Royal Academy exhibition of 1839. Novar was one of the greatest collectors of Turner’s work and the only one of his patrons to travel with him to Italy. Modern Rome remained in Novar’s collection for almost 50 years until sold in 1878 by his executors. The Earl of Rosebery (1847-1929) and his new wife Hannah Rothschild acquired the painting at this auction, while on their honeymoon, for the staggering sum of 4,450 gns. The picture has since descended through the family of the 5th Earl of Rosebery. The picture’s exemplary provenance is further enhanced by its exhibition history and inclusion in a vast body of literature on the artist. The painting has featured in no fewer than three exhibitions at the Royal Academy and has also been on public exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Tate and more recently in the highly acclaimed JMW Turner show at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. It has also been on loan to the National Gallery of Scotland since 1978, and was recently part of their Turner and Italy exhibition in 2009, which travelled to Ferrara and Budapest.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
The current auction record for J.M.W. Turner was set by his Giudecca, La Donna della Salute and