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

Artwork details

Second Sketch for ‘The Battle of Trafalgar’
Date c.1823
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 902 x 1213 mm
frame: 1228 x 1536 x 138 mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Not on display

Display caption

This sketch for the Battle of Trafalgar shows Turner attempting to animate the composition. A sky filled with cloud and smoke bears down upon the sea, where figures and waves create dramatic diagonals. Turner enhanced this sense of frantic motion in the final version, by turning the ship slightly towards the viewer and filling its sails with wind. A calmer image of pomp and ceremony may have been more to King George IV’s taste, as he later had the finished painting removed to Greenwich.

February 2010

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