Turner’s paintings of Britain showed not only the country’s history and industry, but also its leisure activities. In 1827 Turner’s friend, the architect John Nash, commissioned him to paint two pictures of the regatta at Cowes. Turner visited Nash at his summer home, East Cowes Castle. There he was given his own painting room and made a series of oil sketches, including this one, on two rolls of canvas.
The regatta was first held by the Royal Yacht Club in 1826. The popularity of the event is shown by the crowds of spectators seated on the right in this sketch.