Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Harpooned Whale

1845

View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 238 x 336 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D35391
Turner Bequest CCCLVII 6

Display caption

Turner has inscribed this sheet from the 'Ambleteuse and Wimereux' sketchbook 'I shall use this', implying that he considered employing the design for a finished work, perhaps an oil in the series of whaling pictures he produced in 1845-6.
There are two whales in this watercolour. One, its tail raised, is diving. The back of the second is indicated by a long, curved pencil line below the tail of the first. A harpoon appears to have struck one of them, for the sea is stained red with blood.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

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