Turner began exhibiting watercolours at the Royal Academy in 1790. This is probably his first surviving landscape in oils, and may date from a little earlier than suggested above; the rather mannered trees resemble those in some 1791 watercolours of Bristol. Watermills were being overtaken by steam power at this time, and this ‘Picturesque’ example may be largely from Turner’s imagination, like the one in his contemporary oval watercolour of a scene from Don Quixote. The painting was originally set on a rectangular wash-line mount, more typically used for watercolours. Parts of its decorative border are still visible.
Gallery label, February 2010