View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
Drawn with the sketchbook inverted. The ship’s figurehead is a lion. On folio 9 verso of the sketchbook (D05456) Turner notes that an unknown ship with ‘a white Lion Head’ had raked the Victory during the Battle of Trafalgar. This may have been the French flagship Bucentaure which had a carved lion behind her bowsprit or whose figurehead, a white bucentaur (half man, half ox), could have been mistaken for a lion in the smoke of battle. If Turner’s ‘R’ here indicates a red lion, this must be yet another ship, so far unidentified. However, it might also refer to the Redoutable (for which see chiefly folio 10, D05457; Turner Bequest LXXXIX 11). The Santissima Trinidad (for which see chiefly folio 21 verso, D05458; Turner Bequest LXXXIX 12) also had a white lion but with different legs from those seen here (or at least this is the case with the replica of the ship in Malaga harbour today).