In the mid-1840s Turner made a number of studies of beaches, sea and sky, which are purely exercises for his private satisfaction. Executed in apparently rapid and very fluid washes, in strongly horizontal sweeps, they are remarkable for the feeling of space and freedom they possess. Some also have an atmosphere of loneliness and isolation. Breaking waves, sunsets and storms are the predominant subject matter of these works. Many were probably made on the coast of Kent, where Turner was a frequent visitor. He stayed with Sophia Booth at her Margate boarding house. She became his companion, and in 1846 Turner moved her to his house by the Thames, in what is now Cheyne Walk.
Gallery label, August 2004
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