View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
Turner shows one arch of the bridge, with figures below it. The same bridge, with more figures and barges, appears on folio 2 of the sketchbook (D10589). Turner’s inscription indicates the barge of the Skinners Company. Built in the eighteenth century, this vessel was typical of the ceremonial barges of the City livery companies that took part in river festivities like the Lord Mayor’s procession, coronations or bridge openings. The Skinners barge made an annual summer expedition to Richmond, where a reception was held at the Star and Garter Hotel at the top of Richmond Hill. After the opening of the new Waterloo Bridge in 1817, it set off from there, but Turner’s indications of the bridge itself are too slight to confirm whether it is Waterloo or Richmond. As well as the barge he has sketched the Barge Master with his ceremonial waterman’s coat with its full skirt and ermine cuffs, and square cap. His sketches were presumably made in preparation for his picture England: Richmond Hill, on the Prince Regent’s Birthday (Tate N00502)1 exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1819, since this includes a barge on the river, even if only in the distance and without specific details.
The Skinner’s barge was sold in 1858, and later served as the boat-house of the Queen’s College, Oxford, moored off Christ Church Meadows.2