Joseph Mallord William Turner

Van Tromp Returning after the Battle off the Dogger Bank

exhibited 1833

In Tate Britain

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 905 × 1206 mm
frame: 1054 × 1352 × 95 mm, 31 kg
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Display caption

The tradition of Dutch sea paintings was an important influence on Turner’s seascapes (known as ‘marine’ paintings). In the early 1830s Turner made a series of paintings inspired by 17th-century painters such as Willem Van de Velde, who took subjects from naval history. Turner may have been making a topical reference to the 1831 Belgian Revolution. This resulted in Belgium becoming an independent country from the Netherlands.

Gallery label, July 2020

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Catalogue entry

351. [N00537] Van Tromp returning after the Battle off the Dogger Bank Exh. 1833


Canvas, 35 5/8 × 47 1/2 (90·5 × 121)

Coll. Turner Bequest 1856 (35, ‘Van Tromp’ 4'0" × 3'0"); transferred to the Tate Gallery 1929.

Exh. R.A. 1833 (146); Edinburgh 1968 (11); Lisbon 1973 (13, repr.); Leningrad and Moscow 1975–6 (60).

Lit. Carey 1899, pp. 173–5, repr.; Bell 1901, p. 122 no. 186; Armstrong 1902, p. 231; Davies 1946, p. 186; Cunningham 1952, pp. 323–30, pl. 4; Finberg 1961, pp. 340, 494 no. 386; Wilton 1979, pp. 216–7.

Number 1 in Turner's list of titles for his 1833 R.A. exhibits (Tate Gallery archives).

For ‘Van’ Tromp and the former confusion between Turner's pictures see Nos. 339 and 344. The Battle of the Dogger Bank did not in fact take place until 1781.

As noted in the entries for Nos. 348 and 350, this was one of the paintings in which a number of reviewers of the R.A. in 1833 noted a return to a cooler palette. The Morning Herald for 6 June wrote of this work, ‘Clear, broad and chaste in colour and effect—the bright straw colour has disappeared from this master's new works, which is a great advantage; they have more of a silvery tone, which harmonizes better with his subjects.’ To the critic of the Morning Chronicle ‘Liston standing up in a boat is very funny’—presumably a reference to the comic actor John Liston (?1776–1846).

Published in:
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984

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