This is an oil sketch or unfinished painting, its design brushed freely over a pale ground. It is one of a group of Thames landscapes which were probably painted in the open air during Turner’s boating expeditions along the river.
However, this composition is not just spontaneous but formal and controlled. Its symmetry is almost classical, and the arches in the background seem more like a Roman aqueduct than a modern Thames bridge. In his drawings, Turner often juxtaposed Thames scenery with ideal versions looking back to antiquity.