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The year before Turner set out for his second stay in Rome, he painted groups of oil studies on long strips of canvas. Several of these adopted ideas he had noted during his 1819-20 Italian tour. This composition stems from his memorandum of the Seaport by Claude in the Uffizi in Florence. The study represents an intermediate stage in the development of a large painting, titled Dido directing the Equipment of the Fleet, the centrepiece of the Royal Academy exhibition in spring 1828. Now sadly a wreck, that picture was another attempt to treat the myth of Dido’s liaison with Aeneas.

February 2010