While living for part of the time at Isleworth, Turner made many excursions along the river, drawing, painting and fishing - his favourite hobby. He kept a boat, and often stopped overnight at various landing-places. He also painted on board, as here on small wood panels and sometimes, more ambitiously, on canvas.
Painting in oils in the open air, direct from the subject, was becoming popular in the early nineteenth century, in response to a growing feeling for naturalism. Turner's oil sketches of the Thames painted around 1805 show him at the forefront of the trend.