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The centre of civil, commercial and religious life in Pompeii was the Forum. This important area of the city had been excavated in 1812–13, and despite still being imperfectly cleared in 1819, was one of the most recent and complete discoveries available during Turner’s visit in 1819.1 The artist made a number of studies of different parts of the site, see folio 12 verso (D15760).
This sketch depicts the northern end of the Forum with the Temple of Jupiter in the centre and Vesuvius in the distance beyond. Turner’s viewpoint appears to be the southern end, close to the arch of the monument to Augustus (visible in the right-hand foreground).
For further sketches and a general discussion of Turner’s visit to Pompeii see the introduction to the sketchbook.
Roberto Cassanelli, Pier Luigi Ciapparelli, Enrico Colle et al., Houses and Monuments of Pompeii: The Works of Fausto and Felice Niccolini, Los Angeles 1997, p.218.