The valley of Borrowdale is in the Lake District of northwestern England. In 1797, Turner sketched there extensively, typically making pencil sketches of the terrain and, weather permitting, adding watercolor passages out-of-doors. Sometime between 1799 and 1801, in London, he consulted his 1797 sketchbook and made this full-scale exhibition watercolor, which was commissioned by a gentleman named John Knowles.To create the rough textures of the prominent rocks, Turner scraped the pigments off with a tool or his fingernail after the paint had dried. He achieved the brilliant highlights by using gum to protect the areas of white while he applied watercolor washes. The presence of Turner's fingerprints on the sheet indicates that he blended colors by hand.Borrowdale displays the twenty-five-year-old Turner's mature style, particularly his technique. Conceptually, the composition is influenced by the 17th-century French master Claude Lorrain and his 18th-century English disciple Richard Wilson. This is especially true of the classical repoussoir elements--the receding mountains suffused with light and atmosphere. Borrowdale is a brilliant addition to the Institute's holdings of British watercolors, which include works by John Robert Cozens and Thomas Girtin.