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In 1831, Turner was commissioned to illustrate Sir Walter Scott’s collected poetical and prose works. He traveled to Paris the next summer to sketch the sites that Scott had identified as important to his historical prose account of the Life of Napoleon.
While neither Paris’ city hall (hôtel de ville) nor the suspension bridge across the Seine known as the Pont d’Arcole had Napoleonic associations, they served as a general view of Paris, which Scott had left to Turner’s discretion. The bridge, constructed in 1828, was named in honor of Napoleon’s victory over the Austrians at Arcole in Italy in 1796.