The subject of this sketch is the temples of the Acropolis in Tivoli, seen from the river valley to the north-east of the town. The view looks up the steep sides of the gorge to the temples top centre: on the left, the circular so-called Temple of Vesta; and on the right, the rectangular Temple of the Sibyl, which until the end of the nineteenth century was incorporated within the Church of San Giorgio. Meanwhile, the bell-tower on the far left-hand side belongs to the Church of Santa Maria del Ponte. A related sketch can be seen on folio 78 verso (D15074; Turner Bequest CLXXIX 77a), whilst more detailed views can be found within the Tivoli sketchbook (Tate D15485, D15511–D15512, D15550; Turner Bequest CLXXXIII 19, 43–4, 78) and in the Naples: Rome C. Studies sketchbook (Tate D16118 and D16146–D16147; Turner Bequest CLXXXVII 30 and 58–9).
For over two hundred years, the vista of the ancient ruined temples seen above the gorge with the nearby cascades of the River Aniene had been one of the most frequently depicted prospects in Tivoli.1 Compare a contemporaneous drawing by James Hakewill (1778–1843), Temple of the Sibyl, Tivoli (British School at Rome Library).2 As Cecilia Powell has discussed, Turner later developed his sketches and memories of the site within a vignette illustration for Rogers’s Italy, published in 1830 (see Tate D27683; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 166).3
See for example views by Gaspard Dughet, in Anne French, Gaspard Dughet, called Gaspar Poussin 1615–75, exhibition catalogue, Kenwood, London 1980, nos.20 and 23, reproduced, and Thomas Jones and Francis Towne, reproduced in Francis W. Hawcroft, Travels in Italy 1776–1782: Based on the Memoirs of Thomas Jones, exhibition catalogue, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester 1988, nos.50 and 53.
Tony Cubberley and Luke Herrmann, Twilight of the Grand Tour: A Catalogue of the drawings by James Hakewill in the British School at Rome Library, Rome 1992, no.5.8, p.232, reproduced.
Powell 1983, p.7, Powell 1984, p.285 and Powell 1987, p. note 110.