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The setting is the foot of the steps below the smaller of East Cowes Castle’s two conservatories, with the arcade of its south-western façade at the centre. The octagonal white tower to its right was actually some way beyond, across a lawn level with the top of the steps, with the larger conservatory lightly indicated running to the south-east beyond.
This drawing can be associated with the painting Boccaccio Relating the Tale of the Birdcage, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1828 (Tate N00507);1 see under Tate D20844 (Turner Bequest CCXXVII a 41) for the subject and similar studies. The present sketch is roughly comparable, with an elegant crowd among trees below white towers, but in the upright painting they have ventured further into the woods and the house (or a loose approximation of it) is shown in the distance.
This is among dozens of blue paper studies made in and around East Cowes Castle, presumably in the course of a single visit. For more on the various aspects of the house (demolished in about 1950), and its lost grounds as depicted by Turner, see the Introduction to this subsection.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.151–2 no.244, pl.245 (colour).
Blank; inscribed in pencil ‘Box 97’ bottom right.