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Finberg’s ‘classical’ description perhaps derived from a resemblance to an aqueduct. However this sketch and a similar, of the same subject from another angle, on folio 20 (D05872) were made on the spot (20 seems to be smudged with rain drops) and depict the former Cliveden House, in its wooded setting above the Thames near Maidenhead. Closely associated with the poet James Thomson whose works were performed there for the Duke of Buckingham, it was destroyed by fire in 1795. Turner also drew the ruins, with their massive arches, in the contemporary Thames from Reading to Walton sketchbook (Tate D05936; Turner Bequest XCV 32). During a boat trip up the Thames, Turner seems to have moored at evening or overnight upstream from Boulter’s Lock at Cliveden Reach. He painted an oil sketch (Tate N02707)1 looking towards Cliveden at sunset, with bargemen settling down for the night and cooking supper over a fire. The drawings would have been made after walking up the wooded hill to the ruins, beforehand or the following morning.
There are splashes of blue and green watercolour on this leaf.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, New Haven and London, revised ed.1984, p.118, no.168, as ‘Barges on the River, Sunset’. The subject is identified by Hill 1993, pp.98–9