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This study probably represents a particular building, perhaps in or near London, although it remains unidentified. There are watercolour views of other church interiors in the tiny Wilson sketchbook of about the same date (Tate). With its picturesque historical features and dramatic lighting, the subject clearly had some appeal for Turner, as he used it as late as 1819 for one of the few interiors in his Liber Studiorum series of landscape and architectural prints. This may in turn have influenced his 1822 composition of George IV in St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh (shown nearby), with its similar perspective.

February 2010