Turner recorded views of Richmond in both his 1797 sketchbooks. This unfinished study is based on f.9 of the Tweed and Lakes sketchbook, which includes much more architectural detail than is readily apparent in this view. Turner has here selected a dawn effect, throwing the buildings below the castle into obscure shadows. In 1799, at the time of the elections of the Associate membership at the Royal Academy, he offered to paint a view of Richmond for Robert Smirke, himself already a member and therefore able to vote. Although Turner's application was successful, it seems he did not complete a view of Richmond and it is quite probable that this was the watercolur he was working on for Smirke.
Gallery label, October 1996
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