There are three sketches here. At the top a hulk and smaller vessels are seen off a beach, as Turner notes, presumably on the shore of Portsmouth Harbour. Across the middle is a study of waterfront houses, apparently comprising a continuous view with the long façade beyond towards the left, which is the north-east front of the 1762 Royal Hospital Haslar with its distinctively stepped central pediment. This purpose-built naval hospital, south-west of the Gosport blockhouse at the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour, seen on other pages here, remained operational until recent years, and awaits redevelopment.1
Below is another view of houses, probably continuing to the right of the first, with the hull of a boat drawn up on the foreshore in front of them; receding on the right is Gosport’s High Street, seen to the west from off the Hard, where the Gosport-Portsmouth ferry pier now stands, with a large Baroque-style hall (possibly a public building) to the right in the continuation on folio 20 recto opposite (D17951), which is labelled ‘Gosport’. The area has undergone a great deal of change, and nothing from Turner’s time appears to survive other than the distant hospital. An 1880 painting of The Hard, Gosport by Martin Snape (1853–1930) and a similar anonymous view of The Hard and High Street, Gosport (both Hampshire County Council Museums Service, Winchester) show the Baroque building on the north side of the High Street from a similar angle to Turner’s.
This is one of a continuous series of views around Portsmouth between folios 1 recto and 20 recto (D17913–D17951); many appear to have been made from a boat; for the overall sequence and details of the most prominent buildings and defences, see the Introduction.