At the bottom of this sheet Turner has inscribed the words 'Aurora Borealis', possibly suggesting that this sketch records the natural phenomenon also known as the 'northern lights'. However, Turner has not actually recreated any of the distinctive, often spectacular, effects usually associated with these unusual apparitions. This is, nevertheless, a nocturnal scene. The looming form, seen indistinctly at the centre of the image, is more likely to be a church tower than a lighthouse.
Gallery label, September 1995