View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
Turner’s viewpoint for this sketch is the end of the northern (right) arm of the two colonnades built by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598–1680) to frame the elliptical piazza in front of the Basilica of St Peter’s. The artist is standing within the colonnade looking out so that his view is partially obscured by the innermost row of Tuscan columns. In the background beyond he has outlined St Peter’s and drawn with more detail the adjacent façade of the Vatican loggia and the granite fountain by Carlo Maderno. A more complex composition from a different viewpoint can also be found in the Rome Colour Studies sketchbook (see Tate D16330; Turner Bequest CLXXXIX 4).