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.