View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
Despite Finberg’s dismissive description, this is clearly a sketch of the figurehead of the Victory. In place at Trafalgar was a carving made by George Williams in 1801 and fitted, during repairs to the ship, as a replacement to the more elaborate original figurehead dating from 1765. The replacement, of which a replica remains today, comprised the royal arms (incorporating the escutcheon of Hanover) surmounted by the royal crown and supported by a cherub with a blue sash (starboard side) and a seraph with a red one (port side). At Trafalgar, the starboard figure lost a leg and the port, an arm. Turner’s sketch is too small and cursory to show the damage in detail, but the subject is recognisable nonetheless.