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Turner's first visit to Rome in 1819 produced a series of drawings in both pencil and monochrome media, and in full and resonant colour. The drawings provided a survey of the architectural splendours and historic sites of the city. They included both objective and careful studies, and profoundly atmospheric interpretations such as this. The rainbow seems to echo the sense of renewal observed by all Romantic travellers in the Eternal City, and is exemplified here by the Baroque church façade among the ruins of antiquity.

September 2004