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Turner's early training involved him making copies of depictions of the celebrated sights of the Italian Grand Tour. Though related to this kind of exercise, these two newly-identified watercolours show French scenes. Both were made at least five years before he travelled to France for the first time in 1802, and some thirty years before he actually went to the Touraine region himself. He may have based his copies on works in the collection of Dr Thomas Monro, like the Italian subjects, but the actual sources for the sketches have, so far, not been identified. The view of Blois is especially interesting in anticipating the composition of the subject engraved for Turner's Annual Tour, 1833 (no.123, next room).

August 2004