The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate,
MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
Not far from London, just to the east of Rochester and Chatham, lies
the Isle of Sheppey, its port of Sheerness at the mouth of the River Medway.
It was from Sheerness that James II embarked on his abortive attempt to flee
England in 1688. To the north of Sheerness is The Nore,
a sandbank marked, since the 16th century, by a buoy. This is where the waters
of the Thames and the Medway meet as they enter the North Sea. This is also
the scene depicted by Joseph Mallord William (J.M.W.) Turner (1775-1851) in The Junction of the Thames and the Medway (cover). The buoy is in the left foreground, Sheerness along
the horizon in the background. The Junction of the Thames
and the Medway is one of Turner's early works, painted in 1807, when
he was 32. He was no novice, even then. Recognized as precocious, Turner entered
the Royal Academy schools at age 14. He exhibited his first watercolor at
the Royal Academy in 1790, his first oil in 1796. He was 21. Three years later,
at the earliest age of eligibility, he was made an associate of the Royal
Academy; he became a full member at 27. In the 50 years remaining to him he
had at least one entry in most of the Royal Academy's annual exhibitions.
In 1807, the year of the Medway painting, he was
appointed to the professorship of perspective at the Academy (though it took
him four years to present his first lecture, and the second series was delayed
twice by mishaps that included, on one occasion, the forgetting of—in
the coach—his drawings and on another, the forgetting of—again
in a coach—his prepared manuscript).
Southgate MT. The Junction of the Thames and the Medway. JAMA. 2000;284(6):667. doi:10.1001/jama.284.6.667