These figures, which owe much to the ‘banditti’ that appear in the landscapes of Salvator Rosa (1615–1673) and his imitators, may be connected with a projected picture, possibly ‘Hannibal showing his Army the Fertile Plains of Italy’, which was never executed. In 1776 John Robert Cozens (1752–1797) had exhibited his only oil painting at the Royal Academy, with the title A Landscape with Hannibal in his march over the Alps, showing to his Army the fertile Plains of Italy. It was ‘so fine that Turner spoke of it as a work from which he had learned more than anything he had ever seen’.1 Turner’s famous canvas Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps of 1812 (Tate N00490)2 is the culmination of this line of influence; in about 1798 he made a pencil drawing of the subject in his Dinevor Castle sketchbook (Tate D01576; Turner Bequest XL 67).
There is a slight continuation of this drawing on folio 6 recto opposite (D01128; Turner Bequest XXXVII 11).
C.R. Leslie, A Handbook for Young Painters, London 1855, p. 267; see also Lynn R. Matteson, ‘The Poetics and Politics of Alpine Passage’: Turner’s Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army crossing the Alps’, Art Bulletin, vol.67, no.3, 1980, pp.386–7).
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.88–90 no.126, pl.131 (colour).