View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
Following a systematic exploration of the eastern bank of the River Tiber from the Isola Tiberina to the outskirts of Rome, Turner made a series of drawings of San Paolo fuori le mura, the basilica church situated outside of the ancient city walls to the south of the city. This sketch depicts the cathedral from the south-east, showing the cloister and monastery buildings at the back of the complex. Compare Giuseppe Vasi’s etching, Monasterio di S. Paolo fuor le mura, from ‘I Ponti e gli edifici sul Tevere (The Bridges and the buildings on the Tiber)’, Sulle magnificenze di Roma Antica e Moderna 1754. In the background on the right-hand side it is just possible to see the Pyramid of Cestius, an ancient funerary monument near the Porta San Paolo, approximately one mile away. Part of the drawing has been scored across with multiple pencil lines although it is not clear why.