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 52 (D16573), but landmarks visible on this side include, from left to right: the small dome of San Lorenzo; the campanile and dome of the Duomo; and the distant hills of Monte Morello to the north-west of the city.
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 this page, in the bottom right-hand corner, is a small sketch depicting the Duomo seen from the amphitheatre of the Boboli Gardens.6 A corner of the Palazzo Pitti appears on the left-hand side of the view, whilst to the right are the seats of the amphitheatre surrounded at the top by decorative niches for sculpture. The artist has annotated the drawing ‘Bob[oli]’. Finally, parallel with the right-hand edge, are two rough studies of classical vases or urns, possibly sculptural ornaments from the gardens. For further sketches 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 private collection (Wilton no.729). There is also a related colour beginning (see Tate D25138; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 16).
Powell 1987, pp.93–4.
Identified by Powell 1984, p.430.
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