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The mountain is Coniston Old Man, Cumbria, which Turner saw in 1797. This was the first picture that he elevated by quoting poetry in the Royal Academy catalogue. He chose lines from Milton's ‘Paradise Lost’, describing the 'mists and exhalations' of the atmosphere at sunrise. These shifting airs and lights, and flock of sheep running before them, give the landscape a natural drama and intensity. A reviewer in 1798 remarked ‘This artist's works discover a strength of mind which is not [sic] often the concomitant of much longer experience: and their effect in oil or on paper is equally sublime.’

March 2010