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The rising sun catches the spray thrown up by the Rhine as it falls dramatically near Schaffhausen, Switzerland. Turner re-created that effect by scratching through his gray watercolor wash to expose the white of the paper. Then, with a few pen strokes, he defined the crag and Laufen Castle on the right and a leaping salmon in front.
Nine such watercolor sketches were made at the Falls in September 1841 from various vantage points throughout the day and night. Turner considered such site work as preliminary to “finished” watercolors he would paint in his studio.