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Finberg very reasonably suggests that this is a study for the picture that Turner exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1799, Harlech Castle, from Twgwyn Ferry, Summer’s Evening Twilight (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven),1 which derived from his journey to North Wales in 1798. A watercolour study of the whole composition is in the North Wales sketchbook (Tate D01459; Turner Bequest XXXIX 95). In both study and picture the house on the shore at right and the group of boats are superimposed in a very daring way.
The present drawing replicates the motif of castle and hills on the left of the painting, but clarifies the complexities of the right-hand group, separating out boats and house so that they can be understood independently. The style of this drawing is not paralleled in other studies made for oil paintings, but is very like the manner of his copy-drawings, and it may be that he borrowed motifs from his picture and used them in a much simplified form for the benefit of a pupil. See also Tate D01905 (Turner Bequest XLIV c).
The verso of the sheet backing this one is D40060.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.6–7 no.9, pl.8 (colour).
The backing sheet is torn away along part of the right-hand edge.