The inscribed place name indicates that Turner sketched these figures in Loreto, a town built upon a hill approximately fourteen miles south of Ancona in the Marche region of Italy, see folio 10 (D14671). There are six distinct drawings with the clearest being a full-length drawing of a man wearing a hat, and the front and back view of a woman wearing large hooped earrings and a headdress. The latter is comprised of a piece of white cloth folded on top of the head and is characteristic of the type commonly worn by Italian peasant women or contadine, for example in Charles Eastlake’s painting, Italian scene in the Anno Santo, pilgrims arriving in sight of Rome and St. Peter’s Evening 1827 (Philadelphia Museum of Art).1 Samuel Rogers described them as ‘flat as a tile’.2 Turner often recorded ethnic and native costumes which he observed during his European travels, for example see the Scotch Figures sketchbook (Tate, Turner Bequest LIX) and the Swiss Figures sketchbook (Tate, Turner Bequest LXXVIII). Similar figures also appear in this sketchbook, see folios 40 verso (D14731) and 44 verso (D14739), and in the finished watercolour, Lake Albano 1828 (private collection).3
Reproduced in Imagining Rome: British Artists and Rome in the Nineteenth Century, ed. Michael Liversidge and Catharine Edwards, exhibition catalogue, Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery 1996, fig.13.
J.R. Hale (ed.), The Italian Journal of Samuel Rogers, London 1956, p.273.
Andrew Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979, no.731; reproduced in colour in Cecilia Powell, Italy in the Age of Turner: “The Garden of the World”, exhibition catalogue, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London 1998, fig.14, p.46.