During the 1820s and 1830s Turner provided twenty small-scale vignette illustrations for an edition of Thomas Campbell’s Poetical Works 1837. This watercolour is a study for a finished design which accompanies part of the poem The Pleasures of Hope.
The poem uses the metaphor of a beleaguered ship at sea guided by a star as a symbol of hope:
‘Rocks, waves, and winds the shatter’d bark delay-
Thy heart is sad, thy home is far away.
But Hope can here her moonlight vigils keep,
And sing to charm the spirit of the deep.’