The subject of this sketch is San Paolo fuori le mura, one of the four great papal basilicas of Rome.1 The church was built on what was believed to be the birthplace of St Paul and is so called owing to its location to the south beyond the Aurelian walls, the perimeter which marked the boundaries of the ancient city. Turner’s viewpoint here is from the north-east looking towards the northern façade of the cathedral with the end of the transept on the left and the bell-tower on the right. Another study can be found on folio 9 verso (D16501). The early medieval building seen here was almost completely destroyed by fire in July 1823. It was subsequently reconstructed with a similar façade but with a new portico and a different bell-tower. Other sketches can be found on folios 7 verso, 10 and 12 verso (D16497, D16501–D16502 and D16507) and in the St Peter’s sketchbook (see Tate D16256; Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII 55v).
The others are St Peter’s, San Giovanni in Laterano and Santa Maria Maggiore.