The subject is continued on folio 23 recto opposite (D04945; Turner Bequest LXXXI 43). The water turned to blood was the first of the ten Biblical plagues visited by God on the Egyptians while the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt (Exodus 7: 19–25). There are studies relating to two other plagues in this book and later developed as paintings: The Fifth Plague of Egypt, which actually depicts the seventh, of hail and fire, shown at the Royal Academy in 1800 (Indianapolis Museum of Art);1 and The Tenth Plague of Egypt, the death of the first–born, exhibited at the same venue in 1802 (Tate N00470).2
Turner never executed a picture of the ‘First Plague’. See also folios 77 verso–78 recto (Tate D05054–D05055; Turner Bequest LXXXI 152–153).
There are blue, yellow and pink colour trials at the top edge.