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This unfinished canvas shows how Turner prepared and began the breezy marines that he exhibited, mainly at his own Gallery, around 1807-9. It is freely brushed in delicate colours over a pale ground to enhance the atmospherics and luminosity of a finished work.

The scene is the Thames Estuary, probably off Sheerness. As in Turner’s exhibited Thames sea-pieces of this period, fishing and smaller boats are juxtaposed with a man-of-war, perhaps the naval guardship stationed at the Nore.

February 2010