Joseph Mallord William Turner A Harpooned Whale 1845

Artwork details

A Harpooned Whale
From Ambleteuse and Wimereux Sketchbook
Turner Bequest CCCLVII
Date 1845
Medium Graphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensions Support: 238 x 336 mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLVII 6
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

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.

September 2004

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