343. [N00369] The Prince of Orange, William III, embarked from Holland, and landed at Torbay, November 4th, 1688, after a Stormy Passage Exh. 1832
THE TATE GALLERY, LONDON (369)
Canvas, 35 1/2 × 47 1/4 (90·5 × 120)
Coll. Robert Vernon, presumably purchased at the R.A. 1832; given to the National Gallery 1847; transferred to the Tate Gallery 1912.
Exh. R.A. 1832 (153); Australian tour 1960 (10); Marine Painting City Art Gallery, Plymouth, August 1969 (27); on loan to National Maritime Museum 1975–80.
Lit. Hall 18512, p. 10 no. 78; ‘The Vernon Gallery: The Prince of Orange landing at Torbay’, Art Journal 1852, p. 226, engr. W. Miller; Hall iii 1853, no. 8, engr.; Waagen 1854, i, p. 385; Thornbury 1862, i, p. 321; Wornum 1875, pp. 77–8, engr.; Thornbury 1877, p. 448; Bell 1901, pp. 118–19 no. 178; Armstrong 1902, p. 226; MacColl 1920, p. 1; Finberg 1961, pp. 335, 493 no. 378; Lindsay 1966, pp. 141–2; Lindsay 19662, pp. 61–2; Wilton 1979, pp. 218–19.
Exhibited in 1832 with a reference to ‘-“History of England”’ and the text
‘The yacht in which his Majesty sailed was, after many changes and services, finally wrecked on Hamburgh sands, while employed in the Hull trade.’
According to Wornum she was in fact wrecked on the Black Middens, near Tynemouth Castle. The landing in fact took place on the morning of 5 November. William sailed from Helvoetsluys, the subject of another picture exhibited by Turner in the same year (No. 345). Andrew Wilton, countering the stress on Turner's late pessimism made by many critics recently, sees this as an optimistic picture, with the Glorious Revolution of 1688 paralleling the passing of the Reform Bill in 1832. William III's landing at Torbay after enduring the storm demonstrates man's victory over nature.
As compared to Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (No. 342 [N00516]) this picture struck critics as of ‘a soberer tone’ (Morning Chronicle, 7 May 1832) and as showing a ‘strict adherence to nature’ (Literary Gazette, 12 May). According to the Athenaeum for 26 May, however, ‘The painter has made this picture somewhat poetical: he has squandered the finest hues and the finest perspective upon a subject which has lost somewhat of its feverish interest in the hearts of Englishmen.’
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984