Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study for ‘The Battle of Trafalgar, as Seen from the Mizen Starboard Shrouds of the Victory’


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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 114 x 184 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXXXIX 20 a

Catalogue entry

Drawn with the sketchbook inverted. Although Finberg described this as a diagram, it is in fact a rough sketch of the composition and arrangement of ships for Turner’s picture, The Battle of Trafalgar, as Seen from the Mizen Starboard Shrouds of the Victory, exhibited at Turner’s Gallery in 1806 (Tate N00480,1 see the Introduction to this sketchbook). Showing the quarterdeck of the Victory and to her right the French ship Redoutable (for which see chiefly folio 10, D05457; Turner Bequest LXXXIX 11), it extends leftwards on to folio 28 (D05472; Turner Bequest 21) to include another smaller ship and the Spanish flagship Santissima Trinidad (for which see folio 21 verso, D05458; Turner Bequest LXXXIX 12). Turner’s notes indicate complements of guns and the names of the French ship Fougueux and another, which Finberg read as ‘Invincible’ but must be Intrepide, as Turner’s key to the 1806 picture (Tate D08266; Turner Bequest CXXI K) positions ‘Le Intrepide, French 74’ ‘over the Bows of the Victory’. Another slight sketch of the composition, now divided and bound as folios 15 verso and 11 (D05482, D05460; Turner Bequest LXXXIX 26a, 13), was originally a double-page spread, and there is another across folios 29 verso–30 (D05475–D05476; Turner Bequest LXXXIX 22a–3). A more careful study of the composition is drawn across folios 14 verso–15 (D41427–D05481; Turner Bequest LXXXIX 26), for which see full catalogue entry.

David Blayney Brown
March 2006

Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.46 no.58 (pl.68).

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