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The Palatine Hill supplied Turner with good views over the Roman Forum, see folio 50 verso (D15390; Turner Bequest CLXXXII 49a), but also a offered a panorama looking further south and west towards the river and St Peter’s. This sketch depicts a view of the city from a point above the ruined substructures of the Palace of the Caesars. Identifiable landmarks include, from left to right: the Church of Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill; the bell-tower of Santa Maria in Trastevere; in the distance the high ridge of the Janiculum Hill crowned by trees; and on the far right-hand side in the foreground, the Romanesque bell-tower of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. The vista continues on the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 52 (D15393; Turner Bequest CLXXXII 51). A further prospect from the same viewpoint can be found on folios 75 verso-76 (D15440–D15441; Turner Bequest CLXXXII 74a–75) and in the Small Roman C. Studies sketchbook (Tate D16418–D16419; Turner Bequest CXC 16–17).
Turner may have known to find this spot through his dealings with James Hakewill. The view closely resembles a drawing by Hakewill, Rome. Ruins of the Palace of the Caesars on the Palatine Hill 1817 (British School at Rome Library).1
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.3.11, reproduced p.189.