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As part of the process of painting the view of Norham that he exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1798 (no.41), Turner executed two large studies (nos.39 and 40), in which he set out the composition and experimented with alternative light effects. The backs of these sheets are prepared with washes of different pigments, and it seems that he was exploring the possibilities of achieving a suffused back lighting of the kind then popular in the fashion for transparencies.

September 2004