Samuel Palmer spent an extended honeymoon in Italy in 1837–9. This was a turning point in his career: having specialised in visionary English scenery, Palmer now turned to the Italian landscape for subject matter.
Rome had been a favourite destination for English travellers since the seventeenth century. Its famous monuments and ruins were seen as the ultimate source of classical values. The spontaneous feeling of this sketch, and its long, almost panoramic format, deviate from the carefully balanced compositional formats that had dominated traditional views of the city.