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The lighthouse has generally been identified as that guarding the rocks off Plymouth, the Eddystone light, which Turner may have visited during his tour of Devon in 1813. Almost a decade later, he produced a watercolour of the Eddystone Lighthouse, which has some of the turbulence of this study. However, this preliminary idea could also have served as the basis for his 1818 view of the Bell Rock Lighthouse on the Firth of Tay in Scotland. Turner had to borrow another artist's sketches in order to complete this second subject, as he had not seen it for himself. This study is one of three in which Turner explored the visual potential of the lighthouse motif when set against different nocturnal effects.

August 2004