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James Paine’s new bridge at Richmond was opened in 1777. Writing of it in 1779, the London Magazine declared, ‘connoisseurs in painting will instantly be reminded of some of the best performances of Claude Lorrain’.

In this picture, Turner obscures the bridge in morning mist and gives prominence to the shady banks of the river and the bathers at its edge, reminding a reviewer of the writings of the ancient poet Theocritus: ‘We have expressed our doubts...of giving a pastoral character to a scene...the beauty of which resides in its architectural elegance’.

February 2010