This sketch depicts the northern side of the Castel Nuovo, a large fortress also known as the Maschio Angioino, which stands beside the quayside near the main port in Naples. The castle appears in a number of Turner’s drawings of the city but this view looks east from the north-west corner of the former outer walls and moat in the direction of the seafront (present-day Piazza Municipio). The vast outline of Monte Somma and Vesuvius with its smoking crater dominates the background.1 Further studies of the Castel Nuovo can be seen on folios 59–59 verso, 64 verso, 65 verso and 69 verso (D15670–D15671, D15683, D15685 and D15693; Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 57–57a, 62a, 63a and 67a).
Also in the bottom right-hand corner of the page, parallel with the right-hand edge is a small thumbnail sketch which appears to depict a view of the port and Castel dell’Ovo with Vesuvius in the background.
For a similar composition see a painting by Antonio Joli (circa 1700–1777), The Castle Esplanade (Alisio Collection, Naples), reproduced in Roberto Middione and Brigitt Daprà, Reality and Imagination in Neapolitan Painting of the 17th to 19th Centuries, exhibition catalogue, City Art Centre, Edinburgh 1988, no.21, pp.24 and 59.