The subject is continued on folio 34 recto opposite (D04967; Turner Bequest LXXXI 65). Ships Bearing up for Anchorage (‘The Egremont Seapiece’) was shown at the Royal Academy in 1802, where it was very probably bought directly from the artist by the 3rd Earl of Egremont; it has been at Petworth House in West Sussex ever since (Tate T03868, displayed at Petworth).1 It represents the culmination of Turner’s early attempts to use the format of the marine calm as a vehicle for subtle compositional pattern–making, a process that can be followed in drawings in the Studies for Pictures sketchbook (D04140–D04142; Turner Bequest LXIX 123, 124, 125) and elsewhere. Finberg thought that the drawing on Tate D04104 (Turner Bequest LXIX 90) in that book might be directly related to the Egremont picture.2
This study is a very broad, atmospheric sketch of the left half of the composition, but far from final in most of its details. It indicates the extent to which Turner envisaged the cloudy sky as an integral part of the subject. Other studies for the picture in this book are on folios 34 verso–35 recto, 37 verso–38 recto, 45 verso–46 recto, 57 verso–58 recto, and 58 verso–59 recto (D04968–D04969, D04974–D04975, D04990–D04991, D05014–D05015, D05016–D05017; Turner Bequest LXXXI 66–67, 72–73, 88–89, 112–113, 114–115).
The page is oil–stained in places.