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As Cecilia Powell first correctly identified, the subject of this sketch is the interior of the Duomo of Florence (also known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore). Turner’s view is taken from one of the side aisles of the nave, looking towards the polygonal chancel at the eastern end of the building and the crossing, a vast open space of 90 metres which lies beneath the famous dome built by Filippo Brunelleschi (1377–1446). Powell has described the drawing as a ‘perfunctory affair’, indicative of the contemporary English dislike of the austere interior.1 However, it is no more summarily drawn than similar studies by the artist such as those of St Peter’s in Rome, see St Peter’s sketchbook (Tate D16309, D16311–D16315; Turner Bequest 83, 84–86).
Powell 1987, p.91.