As recognised by Finberg, here Turner studies hulks on the river Medway.1 The drawings are detailed and demonstrate an interest in the architectural qualities of the vessels and harbour, but also their compositional potential in relation to one another. Ian Warrell has identified this sketch2 as one of four in the present book upon which Turner based the watercolour Rochester, on the River Medway of 1822 (Tate D18156; Turner Bequest CCVIII W).3 The watercolour was engraved by Thomas Lupton and published in 1824 (Tate impressions T06370, T04796–T04798). The additional studies in Warrell’s group that contributed to this work can be found on folios 18 recto, 18 verso, and 19 recto (D17394–D17396). Warrell notes that although some of these preparatory sketches stretch to 380 mm wide, the watercolour contracts the view into a much smaller space, measuring some 200 mm.4
The hulk at far right is not contained on this sheet alone. In order to accommodate the stern, Turner completes this vessel on the rightmost edge of folio 11 recto (D17382). In light of restricted space, he appears to have slid the present page towards the left, revealing a portion of the blank sheet beneath.
There is an elliptical flaw in the paper at the gutter on the far left, towards the top, possibly where a tear has been bonded with glue.