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During the mid-1830s and the early 1840s Turner became increasingly interested in exploring dramatic effects of light and shade. Turner’s combination of dark-toned watercolour, bodycolour and chalk in this work is perfectly suited to the subject of fireworks at night. He uses only a few colours: blue, red and touches of dark brown and, most dramatically, white for the sparks of the fireworks.

Turner’s Venetian works on brown paper have recently been re-dated to 1840, although this continues to be controversial amongst scholars and the works may date from 1833.

September 2004