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Like many British tourists in Italy during the nineteenth century, Turner was fascinated by the colourful, exotic spectacle of Roman Catholicism prevalent throughout the country.1 Comparison with a sketch in the Gandolfo to Naples sketchbook (Tate D15675; Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 58C), reveals that the subject of this study is a religious tabernacle which stood on the quayside in the Santa Lucia district of Naples near the Fontana di Santa Lucia. There appears to a religious procession carrying devotional standards in front of the object. For further sketches of the waterfront see folios 75 verso and 76 verso (D16054 and D16056; Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 73a and 74a).
See Cecilia Powell, Italy in the Age of Turner: “The Garden of the World”, exhibition catalogue, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London 1998, pp.48–55.