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William Chubb has identified the location of the main sketch on this page (at the top with the book held in portrait format) as the Villa Taverna (also known as the Villa Parisi, or the Villa Borghese) in Frascati, approximately three miles north of Lake Albano.1 Frascati is famous for its summer residences built for the papal nobility, and the seventeenth-century Villa Taverna is one of a string of estates which lie to the south-east of the town, in an area which takes its name from the ancient settlement of Tusculum. Within his sketch, Turner has indicated another estate, situated immediately above, the Villa ‘Monte Dragone’ or Mondragone, a name which refers to the heraldic dragon in the coat of arms of Pope Gregory XIII. For other studies of this villa see folios 27 verso, 29 and 81 verso (D15346, D15349 and D15451; Turner Bequest CLXXXII 27a, 29 and 80a).
As so often during Turner’s Italian travels, his experience of a site prompted references to his artistic forbears. His self-addressed question inscribed underneath the sketch, ‘If Tusculum where is Wilson’s Picture taken from’, refers to Richard Wilson’s painting, Cicero and his two Friends, Atticus and Quintus, at his Villa at Arpinum, also known as Cicero and his Friends at his Tusculum Villa, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1770, which Turner could have seen in the collection of Sir Watkyn Williams Wynn as early as 1799.2
The rest of the page contains a slight sketch of some buildings on the side of a hill, possibly part of the town of Marino, the subject of the drawing on the opposite page, see folio 16 (D15323).
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