The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her (1838) by Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her - Joseph Mallord William Turner - 1839

Artwork Information

TitleThe Fighting Temeraire tugged to her
ArtistJoseph Mallord William Turner
Dimensions91 x 122 cm
Art MovementRomanticism
Current LocationNational Gallery, London

About The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her

“The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up” is an evocative oil painting by Joseph Mallord William Turner, a foremost proponent of the Romanticism art movement. Completed in 1839, the artwork’s dimensions are 91 x 122 cm, and it falls within the genre of marina. This masterpiece is housed in the National Gallery in London, where it continues to captivate viewers with its poignant depiction of the passage of time and the advent of the industrial age.

The artwork captures an ethereal, atmospheric scene in which the ghostly form of the once-mighty warship HMS Temeraire is shown being towed by a small, industrious steam-powered tugboat to her final resting place. Turner’s use of light suffuses the painting with a warm, luminescent quality, symbolizing the end of an era with the sunset reflected in the waters. The great ship, bathed in a nostalgic glow, contrasts sharply with the blackened form of the tugboat, signaling the relentless march of progress. The expanse of the sky, filled with swathes of color ranging from soft blues and greys to vibrant oranges and reds, dominates the composition and conveys a sense of melancholy and sublimity. The pictorial elements together create a narrative that is both a tribute to a bygone hero and an acknowledgment of technological change.

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