Drawn with the page turned horizontally, the view is taken from across the River Swale, looking downstream towards the Castle and Green Bridge. The initials ‘RS’ on the verso suggest that Turner’s colleague at the Academy Robert Smirke (1752–1845) chose this subject for a finished watercolour which Turner may have offered as thanks for Smirke’s support in his application for Associateship in 1799. He evidently began work on one, as is testifed by the existence of an atmospheric colour study of the composition (Tate D01116; Turner Bequest XXXVI V). No finished watercolour is known, however, though other subjects exist as the result of commissions from other Academicians: John Hoppner (1758–1810) acquired the subject sketched on folio 20 recto (D01018; Turner Bequest XXXV 15), Joseph Farington (1747–1821) that on folio 29 recto (D01084; Turner Bequest XXXV 82). Another view of Richmond is in the contemporary North of England sketchbook (Tate D00932; Turner Bequest XXXIV 26).
Blank; inscribed (perhaps by Robert Smirke) in pencil ‘R.S.’; stamped in brown ink with Turner Bequest monogram; inscribed by John Ruskin in brown ink ‘96’ (circled); and by ?A.J. Finberg in pencil ‘23’ and ‘141.9’.