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When Turner (together with Thomas Girtin) made this watercolour at the London home of Dr Thomas Monro in the 1790s, he had yet to visit Italy. Instead, it was based upon a first-hand study by another artist in Monro’s collection. The temple of the Sibyl at Tivoli was among the most celebrated motifs for British artists in Italy, and had been painted notably by Richard Wilson, whose work Turner deeply admired, and also copied. Turner visited Tivoli in the autumn of 1819 during his first Italian sojourn, when he made numerous sketches of the Temple and the surrounding countryside.

April 2007