Turner’s exploration of Tivoli included a large number of landscape sketches drawn from the river valley to the north. This page contains a view of the cascatelli (or cascatelle), the lesser cascades of the Aniene, where a branch of the river flowed from an underground passage and emerged in streams down the slopes at the northern tip of the town. The view is drawn from the floor of the valley looking east with the town at the top on the right-hand side. Silhouetted along the horizon is a medieval watch-tower near the substructures of the Piazza dell’Olmo (present-day Piazza Domenico Tani), and the campanile of the Cathedral (Duomo) of San Lorenzo, whilst in the centre of the vista are the falls, spilling down the promontory in stages before meeting the winding course of the river at the bottom. Like many drawings within this sketchbook, the composition has been executed over a washed grey background. Turner has created highlights within the work by rubbing or lifting out the wash to reveal the white paper beneath, principally to create the silvery streams of the cascades and the river.
Similar views can be seen on folios 29, 37, 38 (D15496, D15504, D15505), and in the Tivoli and Rome sketchbook (Tate D15016–D40926; Turner Bequest 48–52a). Turner also depicted the cascatelli looking west towards the Santuario di Ercole Vincitore, see folio 3 (D15469). Today the smaller cascades have disappeared due to the divergence of the River Aniene away from the centre of Tivoli, and have been replaced by the great waterfall of Villa Gregoriana.