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This sketch of North Shields is identifiably by its two harbour lights known as Low Light (left) and High Light (right), which were built in 1802 and still stand today. They can be seen in an aquatint of the town by William Daniell (North Shields, Northumberland, 1822; Tate T02928) that like this drawing shows a view from the east near Tynemouth at the mouth of the River Tyne.
This is Turner’s most carefully rendered sketch of the town and it continues to the left on folio 12 verso (D13472) where we see shipping in the Tyne Estuary and South Shields, which Turner painted for the Rivers of England series: Shields, on the River Tyne, 1823 (Tate D18155; Turner Bequest CCVIII V).1 North Shields with the Low Light can be seen in the background of that picture.
Turner reached Shields by way of Newcastle which he also sketched for the Rivers series (Tate D13588; Turner Bequest CLXVII 2) on his journey to Edinburgh in 1818. From here he continued his journey by road, travelling via Morpeth on the way to North Berwick (see Tour of Scotland 1818 Tour Introduction).
Above the sketch is the continuation of a sketch of a coast of shoreline from folio 12 verso. This may be the coast nearby, or is perhaps the coast of the River Forth.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.384 no.732.