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No less remarkable than Turner's late marine canvases are some small oils on millboard that address similar subjects in a manner more abstract and perfunctory than anything he ever painted in oil. These also can hardly have been made outdoors, for Turner seems to have entered into the very spray and surge of the breakers as they crash on the shore. Rather he is recreating the experience of his walks on the sands, from memory and, perhaps, inspired by the movement of paint itself. Even if not painted within the elements they describe, few of his oil sketches convey more sense of the open air.

August 2004