View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
Turner’s trip to Tivoli included a visit to the Villa Adriana (Hadrian’s Villa), an elaborate palace and garden complex approximately one mile south-west of the town. The detour seems to have been necessarily brief, but he used the time that was available to him to make several swift studies of the key buildings of interest, see folio 32 verso (D14985). Cecilia Powell first correctly identified the subjects of the sketches on this page.1 The study in the top left-hand corner represents the Serapeum, a shell-shaped exedra or grotto which stands at the southern end of the Canopus, a long water basin flanked by a colonnade and statues. The edifice was designed to be reminiscent of the temple of Serapis in the Egyptian city of Canopus. Today the water and the ornamental decorations of the Canopus have been restored to something approaching their original state, but in Turner’s day the Serapeum would have been the only visible structure of note.2
The sketches in the top right-hand corner, and at the bottom of the page both represent the same view, the Praetorium (a pavilion with a panoramic view overlooking the estate) on the right, looking north towards the Large Baths on the left. All three vistas have been executed looking in different directions from the same viewpoint, a location on the path approaching the Canopus, to the west of the Large Baths. Further sketches from a similar point can be seen on folios 32 verso and 33 verso (D14985 and D14987).