This page contains a distant view of Tivoli from the north-east, looking from a point on present-day Via Quintilio Varo, on the lower slopes of Monte Catillo. The ancient ruined temples of the so-called Temple of Vesta and the Temple of the Sibyl, can be seen silhouetted against the horizon on the right, whilst to the left is the campanile of the Cathedral (Duomo) of San Lorenzo. The hasty character of the lines and the areas of cross-hatching and heavy shading suggest that Turner was sketching at the end of the day when the light was failing in the west and parts of the landscape were cast into deep shadow. The drawing spills over onto the opposite sheet of the double-page spread, see folio 39 verso (D14999).
Turner made several sketches from this viewpoint, see folios 41–42 verso and 87 verso (D15002–D15005, and D15092), the Tivoli sketchbook (Tate D15468, D15488, D15500–D15502; Turner Bequest CLXXXIII 2, 22, 33–5), and in the Naples: Rome C. Studies sketchbook (Tate D16116 and D16118; Turner Bequest CLXXXVII 28 and 30). He also repeated the vista during his 1828 visit to Tivoli, see the Roman and French sketchbook (Tate D21912; Turner Bequest CCXXXVII 35a). The composition is similar to that of an early oil painting, Tivoli and the Roman Campagna circa 1798 (Tate, N05512),1 which was itself based upon a version of a picture by the eighteenth-century Welsh artist, Richard Wilson (1713–1782), for example, Temple of the Sibyl and the Roman Campagna circa 1765–70 (Tate, T01706).
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, no.44.