This is one of a sequence of twenty-five recto pages of watercolour landscape, sea and sky compositions between folio 9 recto (D18609) and folio 34 recto (D18638), many of which evoke quiet Thames Valley scenes with water in the foreground; for a checklist and general comments, see the sketchbook’s Introduction. Here there is no topographical setting, with the focus on two figures on the right beside a punt by on a quay or foreshore. In deeper water beyond is a substantial vessel in profile with a single mast or narrow smoke-stack beside perfunctory rounded shapes, suggesting the housing of a paddle wheel and indicating that the craft is steam powered.
With the present page among his examples, Ian Warrell has noted that within a few years Turner had pictured such craft ‘on the Thames, in the Solent, in the Channel and off Scotland’.1 They are seen off the Tower of London in the contemporary River sketchbook (Tate D17820, D17823; Turner Bequest CCIV 34a, 36).
Warrell 1999, p.77, and see p.258 note 79 for others.