Although Finberg tentatively identified this subject as the Swiss town of Martigny, this watercolour study is actually a preliminary sketch for the vignette Amalfi, which Turner produced for Rogers’s Italy (see Tate D27684; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 167). The scene shown here was reduced to a background detail in Turner’s finished version of the design. Despite its title, the location which Turner has actually depicted is Atrani, a small village immediately to the east of Amalfi. The view may be based upon sketches from Turner’s 1819 visit in the Pompeii, Amalfi, Sorrento, Herculaneum sketchbook, several of which show Atrani and the church of Santa Maria Maddalena with its spiral substructures perched amidst the steep coastline (see Tate D15834, D15385, D15387, D15840–3; Turner Bequest CLXXXV 52 verso, 53, 54, 55 verso–57). Ian Warrell has suggested that the composition of Amalfi may have influenced several views of the town by Ruskin.
Turner produced this and three other preliminary studies for Italy vignettes on sheets of the same paper type and size, and it is possible that they originally formed part of a single sheet. The three related studies are Tate D27621, D27622, D27623; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 104, 105, 106. All four were described by Ruskin as ‘Studies for Italy. Coarse, but noble’.1
Finberg 1909, vol. II, p.896.
Inscribed by unknown hands in pencil ‘AB 83 P’ and ‘R’ and ‘CCLXXX 101’ bottom right