In 1826 the poet Samuel Rogers commissioned Turner to make the twenty-five which were as the head- or tail-pieces of the 1830 edition of his poem 'Italy'. In these vignettes Turner balances a desire to illustrate the modern Italy he recalled from his visit of 1819 with the poetry of ancient Italy which overflowed from its art and ruined monuments. The Turner Bequest contains most of the original watercolours as well as a number of related, but unpublished, designs, such as the view of the Ponte Vecchio. Turner completed the project with the imaginary view of an Italian lake, made between breakfast and lunchtime at Petworth House in 1827.
Gallery label, August 2004