Joseph Mallord William Turner Whalers (Boiling Blubber) Entangled in Flaw Ice, Endeavouring to Extricate Themselves exhibited 1846

Artwork details

Artist
Title
Whalers (Boiling Blubber) Entangled in Flaw Ice, Endeavouring to Extricate Themselves
Date Exhibited 1846
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 899 x 1200 mm
frame: 1288 x 1593 x 160 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
N00547
On display at Tate Britain

Display caption


The last of Turner’s whaling paintings shows the boiling of blubber for processing into oil. The creature laid out on the ice at the right of the picture may have been based on a whale caught in the Thames in 1842, as well as on images by other artists.

As the title makes clear, the success of the whalers is threatened by the frozen water. A reference to this incident is made in the companion to this painting which shows the Erebus, a boat the Admiralty had promised, but failed, to send to rescue ships trapped in the ice.

February 2010

About this artwork