This sketch represents part of a view of Florence from the east.1 Turner’s viewpoint is the southern bank of the River Arno near present-day Ponte San Niccolò, looking downstream (west) towards Ponte alle Grazie. During Turner’s day this historic bridge was punctuated by buildings over the supporting piers, but these were removed during the late nineteenth century and the crossing itself destroyed during the Second World War. The composition continues on the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 61 (D16587), but visible on this side is the tall fortified tower of the Porta San Niccolò, the easternmost gate of the medieval city walls, and the Forte Belvedere on the hill to the far left.
A similar view was depicted by the eighteenth-century vedute artist Giuseppe Zocchi (1711–1767), although as Powell has discussed, Turner seems to have been unaware of Zocchi’s work.2
First identified by Powell 1984, p.430.
See Veduta di una parte di Firenze presa fuori della Porta a S. Niccolo presso al Fiume Arno, reproduced in Vues de Florence et de Toscane d’après Giuseppe Zocchi, exhibition catalogue, Cabinet des Estampes Musée d’Art et d’Historique Genève 1974, as pl.7, L’Arno Depuis le Ponte San Niccolo vers L’Aval.
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