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Peace shows the burial at sea of Turner’s friend, the artist David Wilkie. The cool palette and saturated blacks create a striking contrast to its pair, War, hung alongside, and convey the calm of Wilkie’s dignified death, compared to Napoleon’s disgrace. The two titles War and Peace are illustrated as abstract concepts, via tone and colour, rather than as actual events. Both works were roundly criticised at the time for their lack of finishing.

February 2010