This sketch depicts a general view of Tivoli from the higher slopes of Monte Catillo. Visible at the vanishing point of the composition is the so-called Temple of Vesta, a circular ruin dating from the first century BC, which stands on the brink of a gorge at the northern edge of the town. The arch near the foreground is the medieval gate of Porta Cornuta, whilst in the far distance to the right are the conical peaks of the Montes Corniculani (Horned Mountains), crowned by the villages of Montecelio and Sant’Angelo Romano.1 Visible in the centre of the composition is the former course of the River Aniene, winding its way through the town before plunging into cascades at a point near the so-called Temple of Vesta on the right. After a devastating flood in 1826 the river was diverted away from the residential district, altering both the topography of the town, and the site of the great waterfall. Similar vistas can be seen in the Tivoli sketchbook (Tate D15554; Turner Bequest CLXXXIII 82) and in the Naples: Rome C. Studies sketchbook (Tate D16119; Turner Bequest CLXXXVII 31).
See Thomas Ashby, ‘Turner at Tivoli’, Burlington Magazine, vol.25, no.136, July 1914, p.242.