The Art of the Sublime

ISBN 978-1-84976-387-5

Joseph Mallord William Turner A Disaster at Sea ?c.1835

Joseph Mallord William Turner 'A Disaster at Sea' ?c.1835
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
A Disaster at Sea ?c.1835
Oil paint on canvas
support: 1714 x 2203 mm; frame: 2190 x 2685 x 173 mm
Tate N00558
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This canvas was never exhibited and is probably unfinished, but remains one of Turner’s most powerful statements on the Romantic theme of maritime disaster. Its pyramidal composition leaves little doubt that Turner had seen Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa (now in the Louvre, Paris) described by one critic as ‘this tremendous picture of human sufferings’, when it was exhibited in London in 1822. Turner’s own subject is the wreck of the Amphitrite off Boulogne in 1833. The ship’s captain abandoned his cargo of female convicts, claiming that he was only authorised to land them in New South Wales.

How to cite

Joseph Mallord William Turner, A Disaster at Sea ?c.1835, in Nigel Llewellyn and Christine Riding (eds.), The Art of the Sublime, Tate Research Publication, January 2013,, accessed 24 May 2018.