The figure study is superimposed on the right–hand side of the sea study, which was made with the page turned horizontally, and perhaps connected with the Sun Rising through Vapour; Fishermen Cleaning and Selling Fish, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1807 (National Gallery, London);1 see under folio 12 verso (D04925; Turner Bequest LXXXI 24). Another case of drawings superimposed is on the recto (D04934; Turner Bequest LXXXI 33).
The group of figures, inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, is difficult to read but may be an idea for a Nativity scene, with Mother and Child surrounding by kneeling figures and angels. Turner had already considered treating this subject in a sketch of about 1797–8, where the figures are placed among the ruins of Kirkstall Priory (Tate D04169; Turner Bequest LXX R). On other pages he can be seen working out ideas for a different subject featuring the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child: the Flight into Egypt, realised as an oil painting that was shown at the Royal Academy in 1803 under the title Holy Family (Tate N00473).2