View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
Gerald Wilkinson has considered this composition, inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, ‘a jewel of landscape art’, ‘perhaps the first example of a coloured brush drawing from Turner’s hand’,1 and effectively an early example of the so-called ‘Colour Beginnings’2 (for the largest grouping of which at Tate see Turner Bequest CCLXIII). John Gage has called it ‘a luminous little river scene’; both noted its characteristics as a ‘blot’, to use the parlance of Turner’s peers, harking back to the compositional experiments of Alexander Cozens (1717–1786), although Gage shows that deliberate seeking after accidental effects was not generally Turner’s practice.3
Possibly Turner tried watercolour here to test the unusually soft ‘velvet’ paper, which had yielded mixed results for pencil work (see the Technical notes for inside the front cover; D40998), while the composition was perhaps inspired by the Thames Valley (see the sketchbook’s Introduction).
There is a slight, inadvertent continuation on folio 39 verso (D41536).