After Joseph Mallord William Turner
The Fighting Téméraire, engraved by Willmore published 1859–61

Artwork details

The Fighting Téméraire, engraved by Willmore
Date Published 1859–61
Medium Engraving on paper
Acquisition Transferred from the British Museum 1988
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Display caption

The Téméraire was a battleship, first launched in 1798. It became one of the many older ships put out of service in the 1830s and 1840s. In this engraving after Turner’s painting, it is shown being tugged by a much smaller steamboat to a ship-breaking yard. It thus stands as an emblem of a magnificent, but obsolete, technology.

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

September 2004

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