Steamboats turn up with surprising frequency in Turner’s landscapes. Sometimes they seem to take on weighty symbolic associations; sometimes, as here, they seem just a natural part of the landscape.
Whereas previously only the very wealthiest could undertake long trips easily, in the nineteenth century a wider section of the population was able to travel further more frequently. This included artists such as Turner himself. Travel became more frequent and more casual, so that modern ‘tourism’ took the place of the more formal, aristocratic ‘Grand Tour’.
Gallery label, September 2004