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Despite the rough nature of this sketch, the subject is identifiable as a view of the Ponte San Rocco from below the so-called Temple of Vesta in Tivoli. The path leading down the steep slopes of the gorge beneath the circular ruin was a popular viewpoint for artists drawing the falls of the River Aniene. Compare, for example, Gaspar van Wittel’s (1652/3–1736), View of Tivoli circa 1700 (Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore), which pictures an artist sketching from exactly this location.1 For further views of the Ponte San Rocco see folio 2 verso (D14936).
The inverted inscription at the bottom of the page refers to the structure and dimensions of the Temple of Vesta, which originally had ‘18 Col[umn]s’.2 Further related notes and diagrams can be found on the inside front cover of the sketchbook (D40925) and in the Tivoli sketchbook (Tate D15513; Turner Bequest CLXXXIII 44a). As an amateur architect and the Royal Academy’s Professor of Perspective, Turner’s interest in classical buildings extended beyond pure aesthetics and it is likely that he would have been familiar with measured drawings and plans of the Temple by fellow Academicians such as George Dance (1741–1825) and John Soane (1753–1837).3 The ruin forms the subject of a large number of sketches in this sketchbook, see folio 3 verso (D14938), and the Tivoli sketchbook (Tate D15513–D15518; Turner Bequest CLXXXIII 44a–7).