As Cecilia Powell first correctly identified, Turner’s viewpoint for this panoramic view of Florence was the Monte alle Croci hill to the south-east of the River Arno, near the Church of San Salvatore al Monte (probably from present-day Viale Galileo, or the western side of Piazzale Michelangelo).1 The composition continues on the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 51 verso (D16572), but landmarks visible on this side include, from left to right: the Forte Belvedere with the old city walls following the slopes of the hill beneath; the tall, thin bell-tower of Santo Spirito; the Arno and the Ponte Vecchio; and the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio.
Related sketches can be found on folio 51, 63 verso–64, 64 verso, 65 verso (D16571, D16592–D16593, D16594, D16596), and the vista is also very similar to Turner’s earlier watercolour, Florence from the Chiesa al Monte circa 1818 (private collection),2 engraved and published in James Hakewill’s Picturesque Tour of Italy, 1820.3 The artist revisited the theme in 1827–8 when he manipulated the topography to produce four watercolour versions of a view called Florence, from San Miniato.4 In fact, as Powell has discussed, it is not possible to see the Arno and its bridges from the Church of San Miniato, and Turner has further altered the scene by placing the viewer above an imaginary terrace directly overlooking the exaggerated sweep of the river.5
Also on the page, parallel with the top edge, are some rough studies of statues found in the Boboli Gardens. The group of three figures depicts the sculpture of Adam and Eve by Michelangelo Noccherini, found in the Annalena Grotto only recently constructed in 1817.6 For further sketches of the Boboli Gardens see folio 50 verso (D16570).
Powell 1984, p.430 and Powell 1987, p.204 note 18.
Andrew Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979, no.714.
The four versions are: currently untraced (Wilton 726); in the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry (Wilton no.727); the British Museum (Wilton no.728), reproduced in Powell 1987, colour pl.17; and a private collection (Wilton no.729). There is also a related colour beginning (see Tate D25138; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 16).
Powell 1987, pp.93–4.
Mariachiara Pozzana, Gardens of Florence and Tuscany: A Complete Guide, Florence and Milan 2001, p.19.
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- River Arno(33)