Turner used this book only to record the passing of an eclipse. As on this page opening, most of the sketches include the same building on the left-hand side, which acts as an unchanging frame for the transient effects occurring overhead. In this study the eclipse has only just begun, so that only the lower half of the sun is obscured. It has been assumed that Turner witnessed this effect in England, and this has suggested that the most likely date for the eclipse was 11 February 1804. However, a partial eclipse was also visible while he was travelling in France and Switzerland in 1802.
Gallery label, September 1995