Joseph Mallord William Turner

Three Views of the Stern of a Man-of-War, and a Ship under Full Canvas


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 114 × 184 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXXXIX 11

Catalogue entry

In reading Turner’s inscription, Finberg got no further than ‘Redoubtable’. Hard as it is to decipher, it does seem to contain more information about the Redoutable, the French warship most closely engaged the Victory at Trafalgar and from whose mizzen fighting top a marksman aimed his fatal shot at Nelson. In the reading proposed above, Turner notes her complement of seventy-four guns and the name of her captain, Jean-Jacques Lucas. Although the Redoutable was fatally damaged in the battle and sank the next day, her crucial role meant that it was important for Turner to gather information about her, prior to including her alongside the Victory in his Battle of Trafalgar, as Seen from the Mizen Starboard Shrouds of the Victory, 1806 (Tate N00480;1 see Introduction to the sketchbook for the picture and related works).
The position of the Redoutable in the battle line at Trafalgar is indicated in diagrams on folios 9 verso and 31 verso of the sketchbook (D05456, D05479; Turner Bequest LXXXIX 24a), and she also appears in the sketches and studies connected with the picture, for example folios 15 recto and verso (D05481, D05482; Turner Bequest LXXXIX 26, 26a). None of the sketches on this leaf, nor indeed any of these visualisations, can be regarded as portraits of the ship, but are reconstructions from eye-witness reports. Here, the angle of the large central stern corresponds to her position in the 1806 picture.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.46 no.58 (pl.68).

David Blayney Brown
March 2006

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