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Turner was always fascinated by different types of shipping and studies of boats often form part of his visual record of a place. The port of Naples was one of the largest and busiest in Europe and the artist would have seen a wide variety of vessels in and around the city’s coastline, from small fishing craft to large sailing ships. This study depicts a number docked beside the quayside in front of the Castel Nuovo. The main boat in the foreground is a felucca, a wooden sailing vessel with a lateen or triangular sail. Feluccas were a common mode of transport in the seas around Italy, appearing, for example, in Thomas Jones’s oil study, The Bay of Naples and the Mole Lighthouse 1782 (Tate, T08246). Turner may even have travelled in one himself along the Amalfi coast and the Gulf of Salerno, despite being warned against them by his friend and colleague, James Hakewill (1778–1843), see the Route to Rome sketchbook (Tate D13875; Turner Bequest CLXXI 9). His experiences and on-the-spot sketches may have informed the subject and design for a later unpublished Liber Studiorum plate, The Felucca (see Tate D08175; Turner Bequest CXVIII U).1 For other related studies of boats at Naples see folios 18 verso–19 (D15943–D15944).
Also on this page are two small landscape studies which are tentatively identified as views of Ariccia, a town in the Alban Hills, which Turner passed en route during his outward and return journeys between Rome and Naples. Comparison with a drawing in the Albano, Nemi, Rome sketchbook (see Tate D15456; Turner Bequest CLXXXII 84) suggests that the scene in the top left-hand corner may depict the gateway to the Chigi park from the ‘strada corriera’ (the nineteenth-century posting route).2 The sketch in the top right-hand corner meanwhile appears to represent a distant view of the Church of Santa Maria dell’Assunzione, see also folio 20 verso (D15947; Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 19c).
See Gillian Forrester, Turner’s ‘Drawing Book’: The Liber Studiorum, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1996, p.146.
See a drawing of a similar view by Charles Joseph Lecointe, see Francesco Petrucci e Susanna Marra, Vedute dei Colli Albani e di Roma dall’album di viaggio di Charles Joseph Lecointe (1824–1886), exhibition catalogue, Palazzo Chigi, Ariccia 2006, no.42, p.60, reproduced.