The Palatine Hill was one of the most popular vantage points in Rome and Turner made a large number of studies from the location, recording views of the city seen in all directions. This sketch depicts the panoramic prospect seen from the south-eastern side, near the Circus Maximus. In the foreground are sections of the ruins of the Palatine whilst in the background is the Caelian Hill, including the rounded apse and bell-tower of the Church of San Giovanni e Paolo, and on the right, San Stefano Rotondo. Similar related views can be found on folio 43 verso (D16371) and two other coloured studies now detached from this sketchbook (D16345, D16366; CLXXXIX 19, 39). Another view of San Giovanni e Paolo seen from a more southerly location also appears in the bottom right-hand corner of another sheet (D16348; CLXXXIX 22).
Turner drew this sketch on the blank verso of a page which had been covered with a grey watercolour wash (D16383). This side of the sheet has suffered patches of irreversible discolouration which may be down to the high content of indigo in the grey watercolour wash, rather than properties within the paper.1
Peter Bower, Turner’s Papers: A Study of the Manufacture, Selection and Use of his Drawing Papers 1787–1820, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1990, p.120.