View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
With the page turned vertically, Turner has recorded in shallow bands a sequence of five changing aspects of a sky with clouds, either before dawn or sunset. They are annotated with notes on colour and relative tones. In the first he notes ‘Cd Darker than the sky’, also indicating the position of the ‘sun’, though whether behind cloud or still below the horizon at this stage is unclear. In the second he notes ‘Cd Lighter than sky’, ‘[?Cold]’ and ‘Pink’, with ‘B [?G]’, probably for blue and green, above; in the third, numbered ‘3’, he observes ‘[...] darker than sky | tho warm’, with a ‘Yellow ish’ area above clouds labelled ‘Purple’ twice. In study ‘4’ he merely notes a ‘Cold’ hue towards the top, while in ‘5’, above what may be wooded horizon, the sky is marked variously ‘Green’, ‘yellow [?Light]’, ‘Pink’ and ‘Orange’. Below the skyline is a note of ‘[?Vapours] Cold’, perhaps indicating mist or dew.