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The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up

Artist: Joseph Mallord William Turner
Created: 1838
Dimensions (cm): 122.0 x 91.0
Format: Oil on canvas
Location: National Gallery, London, England



The Fighting Temeraire, tugged to her Last Berth to be broken up

‘The Fighting Temeraire, tugged to her Last Berth to be broken up’ was painted in 1838 by Joseph Mallord William Turner.  Considered to be one of the founders of English watercolor landscape painting, Turner was often referred to as the “painter of light” and “the professor of perspective”.

A Bit of History

‘The Fighting Temeraire, tugged to her Last Berth to be broken up’ is one of Turner’s most well-known paintings. Turner was present when the HMS Temeraire, a 98-gun ship used in the Battle of Trafalgar, was towed to be dismantled for scraps. Although Turner sketched the scene as he observed it, he nonetheless added a few details of his own.

According to newspaper articles, there were two tugboats, not one, hauling the ship; and Turner, being a master at portraying the weather, the sea, and the effects of light, created the impressive sunset from imagination.

Although the water is calm, the explosive red and yellow sky appears turbulent. The painting does not present a quiet atmosphere, but rather one of battle and resistance, as if the ship sensed its foreboding destination. A sunset dictates the end of a day, an appropriate symbol regarding the ship’s life end.

The tug boat is painted a dark hue and its chimney smoke a vibrant red-brown, signifying life; on the other hand, the Temeraire’s color is pale and its hull ghostly-looking. Viewers embrace a scene that clearly shows the passing of time.

Reviews

Art critic John Ruskin said that Turner painted ‘The Fighting Temeraire, tugged to her Last Berth to be broken up’ with his “perfect power” while another critic said it was “one of the most perfect expressions of the romanticism style of art.” 
‘The Fighting Temeraire, tugged to her Last Berth to be broken up’, often referred to by Turner as “my darling”, is currently located in the National Gallery in London, England.



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