This working study of the German town of Heidelberg seems to have been made in connection with two large finished watercolours. All three designs share roughly the same viewpoint. Heidelberg’s eighteenth-century bridge and extensive ruined castle were popular tourist sights, and this view of the city was the one conventionally adopted by painters.
One of the finished watercolours was engraved by Thomas Abel Prior, who said that Turner was working from one of his own sketches. The relatively conventional composition and rather cautious technique would suggest this could be true.
Gallery label, August 2004