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Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, the subject is continued on folio 65 recto opposite (D05029; Turner Bequest LXXXI 127). It is a vigorous depiction of the life of fishermen in small boats in difficult conditions, reminding us that the drama of Turner’s picture hinges on an event in human lives, and not simply on natural conditions. The figures are individualised with clearly defined activities, while participating in a drama that is broadly articulated in terms of light and shade.
The bold chiaroscuro and expressive use of pen and brown ink are both characteristics that seem to reflect the influence of pen drawings by Rembrandt (1606–1669),1 and it is an interesting coincidence that one memorable comment on the finished picture, exhibited in 1801 as Dutch Boats in a Gale: Fishermen Endeavouring to Put their Fish on Board (‘The Bridgewater Seapiece’; private collection, on loan to the National Gallery, London),2 came from the Royal Academy’s President, Benjamin West (1738–1820), who reportedly said it was ‘what Rembrandt thought of but could not do.’3
For further studies for the painting in this sketchbook, see under folio 54 verso (D05008; Turner Bequest LXXXI 106).