Turner visited Fort Bard in the Aosta Valley in north-west Italy in 1836. He made several sketches of the fort in pencil. It had famously been captured by Napoleon in 1800.
Turner rarely used colour when working from nature. He preferred to make several sketches of a view in pencil rather than focus on making one coloured work. This watercolour is an exception. His travel companion on the trip recalled, ‘I don’t remember colouring coming out on the trip until Switzerland.’