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This watercolour is one of a series of drawings commissioned by William Beckford. Cozens started making watercolours of Italian subjects for Beckford as early as 1780 and two years later accompanied him to Italy. Beckford, the young author and millionaire, was a friend and patron of Cozens’s father, the artist Alexander Cozens. In Italy, John Robert Cozens filled his sketchbooks with small studies, which he later worked up into finished watercolours. These proved influential on the young JMW Turner, who probably made a copy of Cozens’s original study for this work.

April 2007