The subject is unidentified, but presumably Welsh; this may be an uncompleted finished watercolour rather than a study. The present author has previously speculated that, like Tate D04164 and D04168 (Turner Bequest LXX M, Q) this was intended as a Bardic subject;1 the wild, mysterious atmosphere of the sheet suggests as much, though there is nothing specific to relate to any narrative subject matter.
The general layout of the composition, together with motif of fallen trees, is reminiscent of Turner’s contemporary work at Fonthill, in particular the finished watercolour South View of the Gothic Abbey (Evening) exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1800 (W.337; Quebec, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts), which is based on a sheet in the Fonthill sketchbook (Tate D02190; Turner Bequest XLVII 13). The details of broken tree stems seem to relate to studies of broken branches in the Swans sketchbook, another closely associated with Turner’s stay at Fonthill (D01691–D01694; Turner Bequest XLII 16–17, 18–19); another study of trees (Tate D01812–D01813; Turner Bequest XLII 136–137), is particularly close in composition to this very grand work. A large study more immediately recognizable as showing Fonthill Abbey is Tate D04167 (Turner Bequest LXX P).
Wilton 1984, p.69.
The sheet is torn and dirty, and mounted by the artist on a second, thicker sheet which has received some washes of colour from the drawing.