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Fisherman seen by moonlight in heavy seas near the rocks known as the Needles off the western point of the Isle of Wight was the subject of Turner's first exhibited oil painting in 1796. He intended to include the subject in his Liber Studiorum, but it was one of the plates left incomplete and unpublished.
The broad and largely undefined dark masses of Moonlight at Sea have suggested to some Turner scholars that such unpublished plates for the Liber Studiorum are transitional to the purely tonal mezzotints known as the Little Liber. The similarities may be due to the fact that Turner left Moonlight at Sea unfinished.
Sir Frank Short.; Kurt Pantzer, Indianapolis.