Turner painted Saying Goodbye while in France, where he typically continued to depict figures from American history—Puritans, Revolutionary War scenes, and Indians—but filtered through the aesthetic techniques of his Parisian teachers. Here, we see a mother and daughter from behind—Puritans, as suggested by their modest dress. The mother holds her daughter to her as they gaze into the distance, lingering over their farewell to an unseen individual—perhaps the child’s father? Turner’s palette is dominated by muted tones, a representation of the somber colors of traditional Puritan dress, as well as the ashen light of early morning in colonial America. Turner eloquently infused the painting with a poetic sense of longing and resignation, which his choice in presenting the mother and child as Rückenfiguren, or figures seen from behind, heightens.