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Cowes is a famous spot on the Isle of Wight, a small island which sits just south of the English mainland. It is steeped in maritime history and still attracts visitors for this reason today.
Turner was a famous landscape and seascape artist who travelled around the UK looking for new spots to inspire his work. This would have been a natural choice for him, and we find in this painting a view of the town itself across the background. Several large vessels and in the foreground as well as a small rowing boat that appears to be taking a small crew to land. The artist used watercolours for this depiction, and was highly skilled in both of the two main mediums of painting - oils and watercolours. Whilst egg tempera had been used successfully centuries earlier, it was these two options that dominated English art from around the 17th century onwards.
The painting of Cowes in dated at 1827 and is amongst his more wellknown seascape watercolour paintings. We have not been able to find out too much information on it, however, and so must compare it to others from his career and try to draw conclusions from that. His seascapes where the vessels are a long way out to see tended to be more dramatic in atmosphere, with sailors under threat from the forces of nature. We can see that in Snow Storm and Shipwreck, for example. His harbour-based scenes, however tended to be more relaxed, almost serene. Those ordering Turner prints should compare the two to decide which best suits their own tastes.
As far as we can work out, this painting remains in a private collection, which is relatively rare for Turner's career, as most of his best work was actually bequethed upon death to the UK state. As such, we can enjoy much of his highlights with our own eyes, often for free. Most can be found in London, where the national galleries and museums exist, but there are also a selection available in the North of England as well, such as Manchester. He remains a critically important artist both for his own native England, but also for the overall romanticist movement which spread quickly across Europe. He remains one of its brightest stars and his reputation is as strong today as ever. Turner completed several other artworks on the Isle of Wright, including drawings, watercolours and oil paintings - these included Carisbrook Castle, Isle of Wight and View from the Terrace of a Villa at Niton, Isle of Wight.