One of Turner 's best patrons was Walter Ramsden Hawkesworth Fawkes (1769-1825) of Farnley Hall, near Otley, Yorkshire. A collector of paintings from the 1790s, he commissioned from Turner thirty watercolours from his 1802 sketchbooks, of which twenty had been completed by 1815. Other oils and drawings followed, and in 1819 Fawkes mounted a public exhibition in his London house. Turner was a regular visitor to Farnley, and after Fawkes's death in 1825 'could not speak of the shores of Wharfe,' the river which the house overlooks, 'but his voice faltered' ( Works, 12.liv).

At the time of writing Modern Painters I, Ruskin may not have been aware of Fawkes's death: either this, or the reference is a slip of the pen for his son Francis Hawkesworth Fawkes (1797-1871). However, Ruskin's personal contact is unclear before April 1851, when he and his wife Effie first visited Farnley to see the Turners; Francis was the dedicatee of the pamphlet Pre-Raphaelitism (despite its title, largely about Turner), published in August of that year.