The painting displays the Chichester Canal in Sussex in the South of England. It is an oil on canvas painting that was commissioned by the Earl of Egremont, George Wyndham.
The Earl was an admirer of Turner’s work and already owned a substantial collection of his paintings. During the creation process, Turner was even granted his own studio on the Earl’s premises.
Today, the original painting is part of the Tate Collection.
It is notable that the sky in the painting carries an unusual yellow tinge. Turner is herein making reference to a volcanic eruption that occurred in Indonesia on the island of Sum-bawa in the year of 1815.
Resulting from the eruption, a sulfate aerosol veil formed in the stratosphere that covered the entire globe. This caused the sky to adopt a yellow shade even in Europe.
Another effect of the aerosol veil was the climate being out of tilt, which is why the year of 1816 is often referred to as the Year Without Summer.
Turner's painting of the Chichester Canal is of a very serene atmosphere, among other things created through the use of bright and pastel colours.
The ship that is navigating the canal is suspected to be a collier brig, a cargo ship for carrying coal.
William Turner, who was born in London in 1775, is deemed the most influential Romantic artist of the epoch. In his work, he focussed on landscapes and lake sceneries.
His art developed a strong influence on the work of Impressionists, especially due to his innovative technique of creating light and atmosphere in his paintings.
Often inspired by surrealism in romantic literature, Turner was masterfully adept at painting bright landscapes. Among his artistic role models are Rembrandt with his dramatic light effects as well as fellow English painter Thomas Gainsborough.
Influenced by Dutch painter Willem van de Velde, a frequent motif at the beginning of Turner’s career were ships in distress at sea.
Although the large part of his work depicts landscapes and the various forces of nature, Turner also partly dedicated himself to mythological and historical paintings.
His landscape paintings rose to much acclaim, but nevertheless, paintings of the historical genre were more highly regarded in his time. Other well-known paintings by Turner include The Grand Canal Venice and the Fishermen at Sea.