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Turner was forty-two years old, and at the height of his powers, when he first visited Rome.  The city was filled with associations with the subjects from classical mythology which Turner dramatised in his work.

On his return home, Turner painted this sweeping view from the Vatican loggia, across St Peter’s Square towards the Abruzzi hills. It embraces all that Rome meant to him as the historic centre, first of the Roman Empire, then of its successor, the Christian Church, and then of the great artists of the Renaissance - crowned by Raphael, who stands in the foreground.

August 2004