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This sketch represents part of a view across the Bay of Pozzuoli, a picturesque stretch of coast to the west of Naples which forms part of the volcanic landscape of the Campi Flegrei (Phlegraean or Burning Fields). The vista looks north-west across the Plain of Bagnoli,1 and Turner’s location appears to be above a small church, probably from a viewpoint near the Grotto of Seiano, a Roman tunnel which led directly through the westernmost tip of the Posillipo Hill. Visible in the distance at the end of the curving sweep of the shoreline is the coastal town of Pozzuoli itself with the ruined Roman breakwater, popularly known as the Bridge of Caligula. The composition continues on the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 69 verso (D16042; Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 67a). A view of the small island of Nisida from the same vantage point can be seen on folios 70 verso–71 (D16044–D16045; Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 68a–69), whilst similar prospects of the Bay of Pozzuoli can be found on folio 82 verso (D16068; Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 80a), as well as in the Gandolfo to Naples sketchbook (see Tate D15667; Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 55a) and the Naples: Rome C. Studies sketchbook (Tate D16105; Turner Bequest CLXXXVII 17).
During the early twentieth century the Bagnoli plain was heavily industrialised and is today the site of a museum park known as ‘La Città della Scienza’ (City of Science).