Joseph Mallord William Turner

Van Tromp Returning after the Battle off the Dogger Bank

exhibited 1833

Not on display

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

An important influence on Turner’s marine pictures was the tradition of Dutch sea paintings. In the early 1830s Turner made a series of paintings inspired by seventeenth-century painters such as Willem Van de Velde, and took subjects from naval history.

This is one of four paintings that refer in the title to ‘Van Tromp’, a name that conflates two Admirals called Tromp. Turner’s tribute to Dutch art is coupled with what has been seen as a topical reference to recent Belgian secession from The Netherlands, and his criticism of the British government’s pro-Belgian stance.

Gallery label, February 2010

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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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