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The Amphitheatre in Pompeii lies along the eastern perimeter of the city walls between the Porta di Sarno and the Porta di Nocera. First discovered in 1748 it was completely excavated in 1813–16 and represents one of the oldest and best preserved Roman arenas in existence. During Turner’s visit in 1819 it was virtually the only landmark of importance which had been uncovered on the eastern side of the archeological site. The artist made a number of studies of the structure, see folios 17 verso–19 and 27 (D15769–D15772 and D15788). Although very rough, this sketch can confidently be identified as a view of the interior of the Amphitheatre seen from one of the passageway entrances found at either end of the ellipsis.1 The arches in the foreground represent the corridors which ran beneath the terraced seating.
For further sketches and a general discussion of Turner’s visit to Pompeii see the introduction to the sketchbook.
Compare the engraved plate after a drawing by John Goldicutt, ‘Entrance to the Amphitheatre, Pompeii’ in Pompeii, Illustrated with Picturesque Views, Engraved by W.B. Cooke, from the Original Drawings of Liet. Col. Cockburn, of the Royal Artillery, vol.I, London 1827, p..