This is a variant of the watercolour now in the City Art Gallery, Manchester (Wilton, op. cit., p. 363, no. 548; Clifford, loc.cit., illustrated), one of the nearly two hundred watercolours done for or purchased by Turner's great patron Sir Walter Fawkes (1769-1825) of Farnley Hall. The traditional title of 'Arthington Mill' was corrected by David Hill (Turner in Yorkshire, exhibition catalogue, York City Art Gallery, 1980, p. 28, under no. 24), and the preliminary drawing is inscribed 'adingham' (Tate Britain, Turner Bequest, CLIV-M; Hill, loc. cit.; Fig. 1). The difference between the two watercolours consists mainly in slight changes in the shapes of the trees and in the reflections in the water.
The present watercolour was painted for the Rev. Richard Hall, a friend of Fawkes and presumably of Lord Harewood (1764-1814), an earlier patron of the artist. This friendship would account for the uncharacteristic repetition of a composition by Turner (see also On the Brent, lot 30). A. Wilton (loc. cit.) records that a note, once attached to the drawing but now lost, claimed 'that the first owner watched Turner while he made it', which would have been a highly unusual working practice for the artist. However, Hall's friendship with Fawkes and Lord Harewood would perhaps account for this unusual happening, particularly as Fawkes is said to have reported to Turner that 'everybody is delighted with your Mill' (W. Thornbury, The Life of J.M.W. Turner, 1862, p. 228).
Addingham Mill, West Yorkshire, is on the banks of the River Wharfe between Ilkley and Bolton Abbey; Turner had visited the latter on his great tour of the north of England in 1797 (see D. Hill, Turner in the North, New Haven and London, 1996, p. 142) and returned on a more leisurely trip in 1808 and again in 1816 (see Hill, op. cit., 1996, p. 202, n. 12, and D. Hill, In Turner's Footsteps, London, 1984, p. 36). Hill suggests that both versions of this subject resulted from the 1808 trip. Wilton dates the Manchester version to circa 1815-20 and the present version circa 1815, suggesting that it is 'an earlier treatment of the subject. It is less elaborate in its handling, presenting more of the characteristics of a study, and is rather difficult to date precisely' (Wilton, loc. cit., no. 549).