Joseph Mallord William Turner
A Steamer off Portsmouth in a Storm c.1825

Artwork details

A Steamer off Portsmouth in a Storm
Date c.1825
Medium Watercolour on paper
Dimensions Support: 256 x 280 mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 147
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Display caption

Steamships are a recurring feature of Turner’s imagery. They appear as details in many of his paintings of coastal scenery and rivers. Here, as in the large painting Snow Storm shown on the wall to your left, the steamship is at the centre of the composition. It is overwhelmed by the grandeur of the surrounding sea, and almost absorbed by the blinding light Turner conjures.  The ship might be interpreted as a symbol of the futility of man’s efforts in the face of such forces.

September 2004

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