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One of the most attractive locations on the Amalfi coast is Amalfi itself, with its fishing port and densely built town tucked in a valley between steep mountains and the sea. The viewpoint for this sketch is the road which follows the line of the coast and enters Amalfi from the east above the beach. In the centre near the waterfront is the Church of San Benedetto (with the pointed tower), whilst behind this is the Romanesque campanile of the Cathedral (Duomo di Sant’Andrea). On the slopes above the town is the Torre (Tower) di Poggerola. A small part of the composition spills over onto the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 46 (D15821).
Despite its picturesque qualities Turner made relatively few sketches of Amalfi, although alternative views can be seen on folios 34 verso, 52 verso–55 (D15802, D15834–D15839), and there are a number of studies of nearby Atrani, see folio 35 (D15803). The composition of this sketch is very similar to the vista after John ‘Warwick’ Smith (1749–1831) which Turner copied into the Italian Guide Book sketchbook (Tate D13971; Turner Bequest CLXXII 21a). It is also comparable to a later pair of views dating from the 1840s by John Ruskin (1819–1900).1
Amalfi, pencil and watercolour, 1841 (Ruskin Library, University of Lancaster) and Amalfi, pencil and watercolour, 1844 (Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University). Reproduced in Robert Hewison, Ruskin, Turner and the Pre-Raphaelites, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 2000, nos.48, 49, p.72.