Joseph Mallord William Turner
First Sketch for ‘The Battle of Trafalgar’ c.1823

Artwork details

First Sketch for ‘The Battle of Trafalgar’
Date c.1823
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 902 x 1213 mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Not on display

Display caption

This sketch and the one next to it were made in preparation for Turner’s first and only royal commission, a huge painting to commemorate the battle of Trafalgar (currently exhibited in Turner and the Masters). In this design, Turner is plotting the relative positions of the boats, with Nelson’s Victory dominating the scene. The composition at this stage was very static. The more dynamic final work was to be criticised by naval officers for its inaccuracy.

February 2010

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