The watercolour painter John Varley was a contemporary of Turner. He specialised in rural, historic and ideal scenes, but he also often returned to subjects drawn from the commercial life of the river Thames. In these he would tend to focus on old buildings and modest riverside activity that conformed to the ideals of the Picturesque. However, the sense of spontaneity conveyed by this sketch suggests that even the most trivial details of urban life could be of intrinsic visual interest.
Gallery label, August 2004