after Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Fighting Téméraire, engraved by T.A. Prior

published 1886

View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Line engraving on paper
Image: 405 x 600 mm
Purchased 1990

Display caption

The Téméraire was a battleship first launched in 1798. It was one of many ships of its age put out of service in the 1830s and 1840s. This print reproduces Turner's painting of 1839, showing the Téméraire being tugged by a relatively small steamboat to a ship-breaking yard. The ship stands as an emblem of a magnificent, but obsolete, technology.

Contemporaries recognized the symbolic inferences of the blazing sunset, and of  the contrast between the steamboat and the old warship, seeing the picture as a commentary on the passing-away of the age of heroic patriotism.

Gallery label, September 2004