This watercolour was once thought to show the area bordering the Rivers Meuse and Mosel. Recent research, however, suggests that this is unlikely. Back in the early 1880s, when John
Ruskin first selected it for display, he was similarly frustrated. Unable to name the place, he called it The Vermilion Palace. This reflects the fact that Turner's later watercolours are frequently dominated
by an overall tone or colour.
The subject remains unknown, though
it may prove to be a view on the River Rhone, which Turner explored in the
Gallery label, August 2004