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The Cover
August 9, 2000

The Junction of the Thames and the Medway

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2000;284(6):667. doi:10.1001/jama.284.6.667

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).