The pair of coloured studies on this page and folio 52 (D16140) are unfinished views depicting the interior of an Italian church or cathedral. The details are too rough for the location to be conclusively identified. Finberg suggested that they were views of St Peter’s in Rome.1 However, the forms seem suggestive of austere, narrow and pointed Gothic arches, rather than the ornate vast spaces and round arches evident in Turner’s on-the-spot studies of the basilica in the St Peter’s sketchbook (see Tate D16309–D16315; Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII 83–86) and a later watercolour, Interior of St Peter’s 1821 (The Morgan Library & Museum, New York).2 An alternative suggestion was provided by the unknown person who tentatively inscribed the back of the study ‘?Milan Cath[edral]’. The artist also made sketches of the interior of the Duomo in Milan, see the Milan to Venice sketchbook (Tate D14344–D14345, D14488; Turner Bequest CLXXV 12a–13, 90a).
Despite their unfinished nature, the studies reflect Turner’s interest in complex perspective and the experience of looking through interlocking spaces of light and dark. The artist later made similar studies in the Eu and Treport sketchbook, 1845 (see Tate D35442 and D35445; Turner Bequest CCCLIX 7 and 10).3
Blank, save for inscription by an unknown hand in pencil ‘clxxxvii. 53’ bottom centre; stamped in black ‘CLXXXVII 53’ and Turner Bequest monogram top left, descending left-hand edge.