This page contains several related sketches of views seen from the point where the Via Appia meets the Garigliano river (also known as the Liris). The three uppermost vistas, as well as the study running parallel with the left-hand edge, all depict the remains of the ancient Roman settlement of Minturnae, near the Garigliano ferry. These include a section of ruined aqueduct, and part of a theatre or amphitheatre (the latter of which is now almost completely demolished). The modern town of Minturno can also be seen in the distance silhouetted on a hill against the backdrop of the Arunci mountains. The remaining two studies represent views of the river and the ferry crossing.1
The landscape in this part of Italy was described by Revd John Chetwode Eustace in A Classical Tour Through Italy (first published 1813):
The road runs over a fine plain, bordered on the left by distant mountains; and on the right by the sea. About three miles from the Liris (Garigliano) [river] an aqueduct, erected to convey water to Minturnae, passes the road; it is now in ruins, but the remaining arches, at least a hundred, lofty and solid, give a melancholy magnificence to the plain which they seem to bestride. On the banks of the Liris and to the right of the road extend the ruins of Minturnae, spread over a considerable space of ground, exhibiting substructions, arches, gateways, and shattered walls, now utterly forsaken by human inhabitants ... The delay occasioned by the ferry affords the traveller time enough to range over the site and the remains of Minturnae.2
Turner made notes from this section of Eustace’s publication in the Italian Guide Book sketchbook (Tate D13954; Turner Bequest CLXXII 12a). As the passage suggests, the artist seems to have had enough time whilst waiting for the Garigliano ferry to make several swift studies. Further views of the Roman remains can be found on folio 30 verso (D15614; Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 29a), whilst other sketches of the ferry can be seen on folio 31 verso (D15616; Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 30a).
Compare the tower visible in the bottom view with a watercolour by John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Near the Mouth of the Garigliano (British Museum, London), reproduced in colour in Giuliano Briganti, Nicola Spinosa and Lindsay Stainton, In the Shadow of Vesuvius: Views of Naples from Baroque to Romanticism 1631–1830, exhibition catalogue, Accademia Italiana delle Arti e delle Arti Applicate, London 1990, p.68, top.
John Chetwode Eustace, A Classical Tour Through Italy, London 1821, 6th edition, vol.II, p.318.