The most substantial piece in Samuel Rogers's volume Poems was the 'Voyage of Columbus', a celebratory describing Columbus's arrival in America. In this vignette, Turner's sky serves a symbolic function; its 'baleful light' has been invaded by the marching ranks of armed spirits, the ghostly warriors of Atlantis. For these details, Turner followed Rogers's poem quite closely, but this does not detract from the power of his own invention. The development of this image can be traced from a rough sketch on the back of the finished vignette, which sets out the basic , including the fantastic sky. The lower study is one of two colour drafts for this subject.
Gallery label, September 2004