There are faint indications of a wooded hillside beyond the boat on the right, but otherwise little immediate context. The waterline of the boat on the left is indicated at a slightly higher level, indicating that the two studies are independent. Each boat or barge has a similar awning on a framework attached to a small cabin, and it seems likely that the studies are actually of the same craft from different angles. Turner may have observed the subject on the River Thames west of London; compare the oil sketch of Barge on the River, Sunset, from the mid 1800s (Tate N02707).1
For other London and Thames views, see under folio 2 recto (D17775).
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.118 no.168, pl.168 (colour).