Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, the subject is continued on folio 57 recto opposite (D05013; Turner Bequest LXXXI 111). This is one of the most ferocious storms Turner ever imagined, a veritable tornado of black cloud obscuring the high crenellated towers of a castle or fortified town. The arches of a bridge are discernible to the right, and there seem to be figures on a shore in the foreground. It is perhaps a design for The Destruction of Sodom of about 1805 (Tate N00474)1 or possibly for the ‘Hero and Leander’ subject he was not to realise until the 1830s; see under folios 3 recto and 30 recto respectively (D04906, D04959; Turner Bequest LXXXI 5, 57).
A further possibility is that the scene is the bombardment of a town, perhaps a modern Napoleonic Wars battle such as the action at Copenhagen by Nelson on 2 April 1801. Much later, in about 1835 Turner was to make a watercolour vignette illustration of Thomas Campbell’s poem about that engagement, The Battle of the Baltic (National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh),2 engraved for Campbell’s Poetical Works in 1837 (Tate impression: T04772).