Cecilia Powell recognised the subject as the well-preserved stone Roman Bridge of Augustus (or Tiberius) on the River Marecchia at Rimini.1 The prospect remains recognisable looking west from the Via Bastioni Settentrionali, although the particular buildings at the left do not survive. The features between the arches are decorative low-relief aedicule panels rather than the customary projecting cutwaters.
Powell has characterised the site as one of those that Turner came across simply by following the major routes through Italy and thus ‘did not have to go out of his way’ to garner a useful store of incidental subjects.2 James Hamilton has noted the ‘great care’ with which Turner recorded the city’s Roman remains;3 see the distant view of the bridge on folio 58 recto opposite, and other subjects on folios 59 verso and 60 recto and verso (D14593, D14596–D14598; Turner Bequest CLXXVI 54, 55a, 56, 56a). Folio 70 recto (D14615; CLXXVI 66) apparently shows the lighthouse beside Rimini’s harbour; see also folio 88 recto (D14649; CLXXVI 84).
Fortuitously, Turner had depicted the bridge in his youth, albeit at one remove; compare his tonal gouache and watercolour copy of a painting or print of the scene by Richard Wilson (1713–1782) in the 1796–7 Wilson sketchbook (Tate D01203–D01204; Turner Bequest XXXVII 86–87). He drew the structure again directly on his 1828–9 Italian tour, in the Rimini to Rome sketchbook (Tate D14928; Turner Bequest CLXXVIII 53a).