The larger of these two apparently unrelated studies is continued on folio 24 recto opposite (D04947; Turner Bequest LXXXI 45), but that page has mostly been torn out, leaving a boldly sketched fragment that is difficult to interpret. It may be a stormy landscape, background to one of the cataclysmic subjects Turner was planning in this sketchbook, or to the painting of Jason, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1802 (Tate N00471);1 see folio 4 recto (D04908; Turner Bequest LXXXI 7). It seems to have been intended to be read with the book inverted: there is a straight line parallel with the top edge of the book that perhaps marks the lower border of the image, which may then also be read as a group of large–scale figures.
The smaller group of figures, with men standing round a seated woman in bright light, is not evidently connected with this larger scene. It may be a ‘Holy Family’, perhaps associated with the rough sketch on folio 17 verso (D04935; Turner Bequest LXXXI 34), which appears to show the Adoration of the Shepherds; alternatively it may be related to the ‘Flight into Egypt’ subject on folios 31 verso and 33 recto (D04962, D04965; Turner Bequest LXXXI 60, 63).
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.18 no.19, pl.15.