There can be little doubt that the sketches on this page represent a religious procession, probably witnessed by Turner in Tivoli. The foremost figure on the far left is carrying a crucifix whilst others bear banners or devotional images above their shoulders. The artist appears to have rapidly sketched the lines of robed and cowled figures as they filed slowly past him, annotating his studies with notes on the colourful costumes. A similar study can be seen on folio 26 verso (D14973). Processions of monks, priests and pilgrims were a common sight in nineteenth-century Italy and the ceremonial trappings of Catholicism provided an exotic spectacle for English visitors more used to sober, understated Protestantism.1 Turner may have referenced this sketch for his later oil painting Modern Italy, the Pifferari exhibited 1838 (Glasgow Museums).2 The subject of the picture is the pifferari, musicians who would travel from the mountains during the Christmas season to pay homage to the Virgin Mary. Turner’s depicts them playing in front of a wayside altar within an imaginary landscape based upon Tivoli. On the far right of the composition is a column of pious figures picked out in white, similar to those in this sketch.
Also on this page, in the top left-hand corner, is part of a landscape sketch continued from the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 45 (D15010). The featured building is the Villa d’Este at Tivoli, seen from the Porta del Colle, at the western edge of the town.