Catalogue entry

250. [N05480] First Sketch for ‘The Battle of Trafalgar’ c. 1822–3


Canvas, 35 3/4 × 47 1/2 (91 × 120·5)

Coll. Turner Bequest 1856 (16, ‘Companion to ditto [Battle of Trafalgar, see No, 251 [N00556]]’ 4'0" × 3'0"); transferred to the Tate Gallery 1947.

Lit. Davies 1946, p. 158.

In the 1856 copy of the Schedule, Wornum annotated no. 16 as ‘unfinished’. This is the first oil sketch for the large picture begun in 1823 for George IV, No. 252; for a second, more detailed sketch see No. 251.[N00556] In this picture, there are no figures in the sea in the foreground and the Victory is seen slightly from the rear rather than approaching. The sails are also different, as is the placing of the other ships. However, as in the second sketch, the composition is closed on the right by a ship seen stern on.

There are paint losses in the top right-hand corner and to a lesser extent in small areas elsewhere.

Published in:
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984