The building visible at the heart of this composition is tentatively identified as Santa Maria di Piedigrotta, a church which stands near the foot of the entrance of the Grotto of Posillipo (today known as the Crypta Neapolitana). The appearance of the church was much altered during the mid-nineteenth century but it can be seen in the background of a painting by Gaspar Van Wittel (1652/3–1736), View of the Chiaia District towards Mergellina (Palazzo Pitti, Florence).1 Along the crest of the Posillipo Hill is a villa which may be the same one described in a sketch by John Robert Cozens (1752–1797) as ‘Casino Sannazaro’.2 A related sketch can be found in the Gandolfo to Naples sketchbook (Tate D15658; Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 51).
Reproduced in colour in Giuliano Briganti, Nicola Spinosa and Lindsay Stainton, In the Shadow of Vesuvius: Views of Naples from Baroque to Romanticism 1631–1830, exhibition catalogue, Accademia Italiana delle Arti e delle Arti Applicate, London 1990, p.36.
Casino Sannazaro at Posillipo 1793 (Whitworth Art Gallery Manchester), reproduced in Anthony Blunt, Catalogue of Seven Sketch-Books by John Robert Cozens, Sothebys, London 1973, vol.III, no.23.
Blank, save for inscription by an unknown hand in pencil ‘[?M]’ bottom right, ascending right-hand edge