Thames barges criss-cross in front of two ships at anchor, the larger one lacking masts and, judging by her profile, with an awning over her poop-deck and stern. These two ships, with the large sailing barge on folio 36 of the sketchbook (D06413; Turner Bequest XCIX 32) placed to the foreground, formed the basis of The Confluence of the Thames and the Medway (Tate T03874; displayed at Petworth House) exhibited at Turner’s Gallery in 18081 and possibly earlier on grounds of style.2 Butlin and Joll note only folio 36 in relation to this picture but the connection is at least as clear in the present instance. Folio 38 (D06414; Turner Bequest XCIX 33) probably views the larger vessel from the other side, indicating that Turner sailed round her in his boat. In support of this evidence of his on-the-spot research, John Landseer’s remarks on the 1808 picture included praise for the artist’s ‘considerable technical knowledge of marine affairs’.3
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.57–8 no.75 (pl.85).
Martin Butlin, Mollie Luther and Ian Warrell, Turner at Petworth: Painter and Patron, London 1989, p.29.
Landseer, Review of Publications of Art, quoted by Butlin and Joll 1984, p.57.