Working with the page turned horizontally, Turner has brought his subject to a high degree of finish, deploying washes of richly hued watercolour to create the effect of an oil painting. The palette here is reminiscent of that in the large watercolour Caernarvon Castle, North Wales that he exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1800 (Tate D04164; Turner Bequest LXX M),1 but the pencil drawing on which the watercolour is superimposed consists of broad loose hatching in the style of the late landscape studies of Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788). With its carefully balanced groups of trees and team of oxen there are compositional similarities, too: Turner seems to be imitating Gainsborough’s use of classical models derived from the work of Claude Lorrain (1604/5–1682), as he does in the Caernarvon Castle as well.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.329 no.263, pl.52.
For a proposed sequence for the leaves of the disbound Fonthill sketchbook, with this page as folio 20, see the Introduction.