The Palatine Hill supplied Turner with good views over the Roman Forum, see folio 50 verso (D15390; Turner Bequest CLXXXII 49a), but also offered a panorama looking further south and west towards the river and St Peter’s. This sketch depicts a view of the city framed by part of the ruined Palace of the Caesars in the foreground. Identifiable landmarks include St Peter’s and, further down to the left the Isola Tiberina with the adjacent Ponte Sisto, Ponte Rotto and the circular Temple of Hercules Victor in the Forum Boarium. Turner appears to have had some trouble with the correct placement of the city’s topography and has drawn the dome of St Peter’s twice. The vista continues on the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 51 verso (D15392; Turner Bequest CLXXXII 50a). A further prospect from the same viewpoint can be found on folios 75 verso-76 (D15440–D15441; Turner Bequest CLXXXII 74a–75) and in the Small Roman C. Studies sketchbook (Tate D16418–D16419; Turner Bequest CXC 16–17).
Turner may have known to find this spot through his recent collaboration with James Hakewill on Picturesque Views in Italy. The view closely resembles a drawing by Hakewill, Rome. Ruins of the Palace of the Caesars on the Palatine Hill 1817 (British School at Rome Library).1
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.3.11, reproduced p.189.
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