Joseph Mallord William Turner
Whalers exhibited 1845

Artwork details

Date Exhibited 1845
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 911 x 1219 mm
frame: 1300 x 1610 x 180 mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Not on display

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

About this artwork