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Cecilia Powell has identified this sketch as a view in the grounds of the Villa Borghese, a large area of parkland north of central Rome, built during the early seventeenth century for Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V.1 Flaminio Ponzio (circa 1560–1613), the architect who designed the Casino Borghese, also laid out the grounds including a series of formal gardens, an area of natural parkland, an aviary (the Uccelliera), and a scattering of statues, fountains and ancient monuments. The park was further transformed during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries by the building of a wooded lake garden, landscaped in the English manner with neo-classical features, partly designed by the British artist, Jacob More (circa 1740–1793).2 During the nineteenth century the gardens were open to the public free of charge and were a popular place for Romans and tourists alike to promenade in their leisure time.3
Turner made a number of quick studies of the gardens with the various architectural features seen through the trees, see for example the St Peter’s sketchbook (Tate D16267–D16270; Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII 61–63). Other sketches of the grounds can be found on folios 21 and 22–23 (D16523 and D16525–D16527).
Raymond Keaveney, Views of Rome from the Thomas Ashby Collection in the Vatican Library, exhibition catalogue, Smithsonian Institution, Washington 1988, p.221.
John Chetwode Eustace, A Classical Tour of Italy, London 1815, 3rd edition, vol.II, pp.207–8.