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Turner often sought out high vantage points from which to gain a panoramic perspective across cities and landscapes. The highest point in Naples was the hill of Camaldoli to the north-west, from where it was possible to survey the length of the Gulf of Naples and the Tyrrhenian coastline from Gaeta in the west to Vesuvius and Sorrento in the east. It was a popular destination for tourists and similarly for topographical artists. Turner’s contemporary, James Hakewill (1778–1843), for example made a detailed drawing of the vista inscribed with the names of the principal landmarks.1 The hill was also the site of the Eremo di Camaldoli, a sixteenth-century monastery of the Camaldolese order.
The sketch on this page forms part of a sweeping view looking south and west from Camaldoli across the Campi Flegrei (Phlegraean or Burning Fields), the volcanic area to the west of Naples bordered by the Gulf of Pozzuoli. The composition continues on the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 73 (D15871; Turner Bequest CLXXXV 71), but the features visible on this side include the town and plain of Pianura (labelled by the artist ‘piano’), the smoking, sulphurous Solfatara crater, and along the horizon the islands of Procida, Ischia and the Capo Miseno.
View from the great Camaldoli above the city of Naples 1816 (British School at Rome Library), reproduced in Tony Cubberley and Luke Herrmann, Twilight of the Grand Tour: A catalogue of the drawings by James Hakewill in the British School at Rome Library, Rome 1992, no.5.42, reproduced p.270.