On 16 October 1834 Turner was among the huge throng of people who watched the burning of the old Houses of Parliament. Subsequently he made two paintings, seen from the Surrey side of the Thames, showing the fire at its height and diminishing somewhat. Both these are in the USA, at the museums of Philadelphia and Cleveland respectively. There are nine watercolours, of which this is one, which are usually thought to be of the fire. However, not all authorities agree on this.