Joseph Mallord William Turner Whalers exhibited 1845

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Artwork details

Title
Whalers
Date Exhibited 1845
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 911 x 1219 mm
frame: 1300 x 1610 x 180 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
N00545
On display at Tate Britain
Exhibition: Late Turner

Display caption


This is the first of two whaling subjects Turner exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1845 (followed by two more in 1846), probably painted in the hope of selling them to his patron Elhanan Bicknell, an investor in the whaling industry.

The four pictures were inspired by Thomas Beale’s Natural History of the Sperm Whale (1839), with this painting based on an account of the pursuit of a whale in the North Pacific. At the right the creature has been harpooned and is bleeding, while men in three boats stand with their arms raised to strike again.

February 2010

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