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Many of Turner's pictures include rainbows, and it was clearly a phenomenen he found fascinating; its very form combines his interests in light and colour. Although it is difficult to date this kind of study, the technique used suggests that it was painted about 1815, at the time that Turner was often a visitor to Yorkshire. There is, however, also a resemblance between this study and a finished watercolour of Malham Cove, produced some years earlier, where a rainbow can be seen arching over a group of cattle (British Museum).

August 2004