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This unfinished painting takes us to the heart of the smoky commercial capital which, though a Londoner by birth and resident for most of his life, Turner usually preferred to depict from a distance. Here he looks along the Thames towards Waterloo Bridge, designed by John Rennie and opened in 1817, two years after the Battle of Waterloo.

Turner’s view dates from the 1830s and he was perhaps planning a response in kind to John Constable’s Opening of Waterloo Bridge (Tate), which appeared at the Royal Academy in 1832.

February 2010