As the art historian and Turner scholar Cecilia Powell first identified, this sketch depicts Parma, a city in the north of Italy approximately halfway between Milan and Bologna. The city is divided in half by the ‘torrente Parma’, a small stream or river which is a tributary of the Po. This study represents a view of the river with the buildings lining the banks on either side. Turner’s viewpoint is a bridge near the historic centre known as the Ponte Verdi and the vista looks south towards the Ponte di Mezzo, a bridge of five arches which once had a small eighteenth-century chapel near the centre dedicated to San Giovanni Nepomuceno (St John of Nepomuk).1 The composition continues on the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 7 (D16653). On this side the artist has inscribed the names of the two bridges relevant to the prospect ‘P[onte] Verd[i]’ and ‘P[onte] [di] Mezzo’.
Also on this page are inscriptions and diagrammatic sketches which appear to represent notes and rough copies of works of art. The precise subjects have not been identified. James Hakewill (1778–1843) had provided Turner with advice about Parma’s artistic treasures in the Route to Rome sketchbook (Tate D13897; Turner Bequest CLXXI 21) and on a separate sheet of paper (see Tate D36333; Turner Bequest CCCLXVIII B).
The chapel was destroyed in 1914 and the appearance of the present-day bridge dates to the 1930s.
- symbols and personifications(7,285)