Joseph Mallord William Turner

Figurehead of the ‘Victory’

1805

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 114 x 184 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D05484
Turner Bequest LXXXIX 27 a

Catalogue entry

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.

David Blayney Brown
March 2006

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like