The subject of this work is from Suetonius ‘Life’ of the Emperor Caligula. Caliguia, in order to overturn a prophecy that he would ride across the Gulf of Baiae with horses before becoming emperor, constructed a floating bridge of boats in order to cross the bay in a chariot. Caligula's Palace and Bridge received popular reviews in 1831. The Times
described it as ‘one of the most beautiful and magnificent landscapes that ever mind conceived or pencil drew’.
Joseph Mallord William Turner
Caligula's Palace and Bridge exhibited 1831
137.2 x 246.4 cm
Date of work
Oil paint on canvas 137.2 x 246.4 cm
Joseph Mallord William Turner was born in London; he remained a Londoner and kept a Cockney accent all his life despite dominating British landscape painting throughout the first half of the 19th century. He established a reputation in the Royal Academy, first as a topographical watercolourist and then within a few years as a painter of sublime and historical landscapes. From the mid-1790s he settled on the routine he maintained for much of his life: touring in summer and working in the studio in the winter months. He opened his own gallery and had many patrons and admirers as well as detractors. After his death a large body of his works in oil and watercolour was given to the British nation, with many on show at Tate Britain.