What Ruskin called “a furious six months work” in 1874 involved daily study in Assisi, Rome and Florence, where a multiplicity of new projects left him excited but exhausted. Short stays in Lucca at the beginning of August and end of September provided some respite, but even there he renewed his attempt to capture in drawings the elusive essence of Jacopo della Quercia’s effigy of Ilaria del Carretto, which had intrigued him since his first visit in 1845.

This watercolour occupies a special place in the Whitehouse collection for its unusual degree of finish and exceptional state of preservation. Its precise subject has been identified, as the campanile of a Romanesque church in the small village of Pozzuolo, a little to the south-west above Lucca.


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