This small but powerful study shows how Turner created an almost abstract language of form and colour that could accommodate both modern and historic subjects. This watercolour has been interpreted as showing a modern dockyward. However, it could equally be seen as showing some kind of monumental ancient architecture. The sense of mystery conveyed by this work can be related to the aesthetic of the Sublime, which played an important role in helping people to see modern subjects as worthy of artistic treatment.
Gallery label, August 2004