The view depicted in this sketch looks north-west from Santa Lucia towards the former Largo di Palazzo, an open square outside the Palazzo Reale which was transformed during the nineteenth century into present-day Piazza del Plebiscito.1 The building on the right-hand side of the vista is the western end of the Palazzo Reale and adjacent near the centre of the composition is the Fontana di Gigante (also known as the Fontana di Immacolatella), a monumental Baroque fountain which today is located on the waterfront at the corner of Via Partenope and Via Nazurio Sauro near Castel dell’Ovo. Rising beyond the fountain is the hill surmounted by the Certosa (Charterhouse) di San Martino and the Castel Sant’Elmo.
Turner’s viewpoint is unclear although it appears to be from high vantage point on present-day Via Console Cesario, near Via Santa Lucia, possibly from the Church of Santa Lucia a Mare. The buildings visible on the left are no longer extant. Aside from the nineteenth-century construction of the Piazza del Plebiscito, the Santa Lucia district also underwent dramatic urban renewal including the raising of the Via Santa Lucia to offset rising sea levels and the building of the new waterfront, the Via Partenope.
A similar view can be seen in Gaspar Van Wittel (1652/3–1736, Veduta dal Largo di Palazzo (Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano, Naples). For a view looking in the opposite direction see Antonio Joli (circa 1700–77), ‘Cuccagna’ in front of the Royal Palace (Collection of Lord Montagu of Beaulieu), reproduced in Giuliano Briganti, Nicola Spinosa and Lindsay Stainton, In the Shadow of Vesuvius: Views of Naples from Baroque to Romanticism 1631–1830, exhibition catalogue, Accademia Italiana delle Arti e delle Arti Applicate, London 1990, p.46.
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