Although this study of dark clouds over a distant coast gives no indication of a particular setting. Eric Shanes has suggested that it may relate to either of two watercolours among Turner’s Southern Coast designs (see the Introduction to this section).1 One of Brighton made in about 1824 (Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton and Hove),2 was engraved in 1825 as Brightonhelmston, Sussex (Tate impressions: T04420–T04421, T05288–T05996); another, Deal, Kent of about 1825 (Deal Town Council), 3 was engraved in 1826 (T04422, T05236–T05237, T05998). They show the towns from off shore across choppy seas; the Brighton view has a bright, clearing sky with a rainbow, but the backdrop to Deal is dark with cloud over a bright horizon and low, sunlit buildings which may correspond to the pale ochre area towards the left here.
Eric Shanes has drawn stylistic parallels between this study and numerous other ‘colour beginnings’ of coastal subjects (Tate D25365, D25383, D25393, D25410, D25422, D25437, D25477, D36117; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 243, 260, 270, 287, 299, 314, 354, CCCLXIV 270), even suggesting they ‘may have been created during the same session of work’ in about 1825,1 although at the same time he suggests that the present work began as part of a larger sheet watermarked 1828.2 It has been dated here in accordance with its possible Southern Coast while allowing for this apparent contradiction.
Blank; inscribed by ?Turner in pencil ‘B’ towards top right; inscribed by ?John Ruskin in pencil ‘AB [...] P | O’ towards bottom right; inscribed in pencil ‘cclxiii.303’ bottom right.