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This is one of a sequence of twenty-five recto pages of watercolour landscape, sea and sky compositions between folio 9 recto (D18609) and folio 34 recto (D18638), many of which evoke quiet Thames Valley scenes with water in the foreground; for a checklist and general comments, see the sketchbook’s Introduction. Here, with great economy, figures are shown mid-river, sheltering under umbrellas in a punt in a damp, rainy atmosphere. The arc at the top right, where a brushstroke has lifted the grey pigment from the clouds, appears to be the beginnings of a rainbow, suggesting changeable weather.
David Hill has described these ‘evanescent washes, almost Chinese in style and ethereal’, suggesting that the colour studies here are ‘in many respects a way of not engaging with reality, of transcending it, of letting go, of being able to say goodbye’1 to Turner’s time living at his self-designed house near the Thames at Twickenham, which he was to sell in 1826 (see the ‘Sandycombe Lodge c.1808–12’ section of this catalogue).
Hill 1993, p.153.