Modern Rome Campo Vaccino by JMW Turner



2015-06-26 10:41:04

Modern Rome - Campo Vaccino is a painting by the British artist J. M. W. Turner.


About the painting

‘Modern Rome – Campo Vaccino’ was completed in 1839, and depicts the unexcavated Roman Forum known as the ‘Camp Vaccino’ (or ‘Cow Pasture’). It was the culmination of Turner’s love affair with the city, and his last painting in a series of landscapes created over a twenty-year period.

The painting was produced from a series of sketches and studies made by Turner during his trips to the city, and captures his fascination with the city and its history, along with his passion for Italian art and the Old Masters.

History and ownership

The painting made its debut in an exhibition at London’s Royal Academy in 1839, and was soon purchased by Turner’s friend and patron Hugh Munro.It remained in his family until 1878, when it was sold at auction by Christie’s to the 5th Earl of Rosebery for 4,450 guineas.

It then spent the next 100 years on display at the family’s residences including Mentmore Towers in Buckinghamshire, whilst being periodically loaned to exhibitions at venues such as the London Whitechapel Art gallery (1958) and the Victoria and Albert Museum (1974).

In 1978 it was loaned the National Gallery of Scotland, where it remained until 2010. During this time it was briefly loaned to several galleries including the Tate Gallery and the National gallery of Art is Washington.

Notable sales

In 2010 the painting was placed up for sale by the descendants of the 5th Earl of Rosebery, and appeared at a Sotheby’s auction in London on July 7, 2010.

It was sold for a price of £29.7 million to art dealers working on behalf of the Getty Museum in California, who purchased it for their collection.


The sale of the painting was met by controversy, as many art experts felt the painting should remain in Britain as part of the kingdom’s cultural heritage.

An export bar on the painting was put in place by the then-Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, after a recommendation by the United Kingdom's Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest.

The delay was put in place to allow a British institution to raise funds to match the sale price of £29.7 million. However, after six months no interested parties had put together enough to purchase the work, and an export license was granted in February 2011.

The painting is now on display at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

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