View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
The subject of this sketch is part of the ancient ruins of the Palatine Hill in Rome.1 Turner appears to have been standing at a point near the site of the Septizodium Severi on the south-eastern side of the hill, possibly on the steps of the Church of San Gregorio Magno al Celio. The left-hand side of the composition is dominated by the substructures of the Palace of Septimius Severus, whilst in the centre at the top is the crumbling exedra of the Hippodromus Palatii (also known as the Stadium of Domitian), part of the Domus Augustana. The series of arches in the forgeground on the right represent part of the remains of the Acqua Claudia which stand next to present-day Via di San Gregorio. Like many drawings within this sketchbook, the composition has been executed over a washed grey background and Turner has created areas of pale highlights by rubbing or lifting through to the white paper beneath.
Compare with the left-hand side of the composition, The Palatine with the Church of San Bonaventura, by an anonymous eighteenth century artist, in Raymond Keaveney, Views of Rome from the Thomas Ashby Collection in the Vatican Library, exhibition catalogue, Smithsonian Institution, Washington 1988, no.17, reproduced p..