Arch of Titus, 1870
Artist: William Beck
© RIBA Library Drawings and Archives Collections
Standing proudly in the Roman Forum, the Arch of Titus served as a triumphal monument for conquering generals and emperors to parade through. Today the arch slowly crumbles among the other ruins of the forum.
Using pencil and a small sheet of paper, William Beck concentrated on the light falling across the decaying arch. The lines projecting from the cornice on the top right-hand corner indicate how Beck created this work by spending time constructing the perspective framework for the sketch. Rather than draw the arch as a reconstruction, removing the imperfections and rustication as Palladio and Knapp did, the entablature and friezes are drawn in their ruinous conditions. Through shading, Beck shows the finished surface of the stonework slowly eroding away - a romantic view of the ancient world that appears in the work of many contemporary architects.