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Presumably sketched at Spithead, these ships may include prizes from the Danish fleet, seized by the British at Copenhagen; see Introduction to the sketchbook for the historical background. The arrangement of ships, especially the two at right, anticipates Turner’s Spithead: Boat’s Crew Recovering an Anchor (Tate N00481),1 for which also see the Introduction.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.60–1 no.80 (pl.90).