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With its combination of natural scenery and classical architecture, the town of Tivoli was an obvious choice of subject which fascinated Turner for decades. This unfinished canvas appears to be based upon a watercolour painting of Tivoli, exhibited at the Royal Academy over twenty years earlier. The foreground is dominated by the River Aniene, calm and still where it pools beneath the Temple of the Sibyl, before plunging over the brink of a great waterfall. The intense concentration of white in the centre of the composition represents the light of the sun reflected on the surface of the water.

February 2010