Joseph Mallord William Turner
Sunrise with Sea Monsters c.1845

Artwork details

Sunrise with Sea Monsters
Date c.1845
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 914 x 1219 mm
frame: 1066 x 1373 x 75 mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Display caption

Although this unfinished painting has come to be known as Sunrise with Sea Monsters, the obscure pink shape at the lower centre of the canvas probably depicts fish; indeed a red and white float and part of a net can be seen nearby.

Commentators have related the picture to Turner’s whaling scenes, and other paintings with fish in the foreground from the 1840s. But the subject of fishing was of interest to Turner throughout his career, as were remarkable sunsets and sunrises such as the dawn depicted here.

February 2010

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