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This picture shows a view of Rome from the South-East. It was exhibited in 1864 with this note: 'Suddenly, at a turn in the mountain road, we looked for the first time on that Plain; the dispenser of law, the refuge of philosophy, the cradle of faith. Ground which Virgil trod and Claude invested with supernatural beauty was sketched - but with a trembling pencil.' It is one of Palmer's largest watercolours, and is very densely painted in a mixture of watercolour and bodycolour (watercolour mixed with opaque white). Such heavily-worked up landscapes were characteristic of Palmer's later years. His reference to the Roman poet Virgil recalls the great impact which Blake's illustrations to Thornton's 'Pastorals of Virgil' had on him.

September 2004