Skip to main content

Joseph Mallord William Turner, The Fighting Temeraire

Key facts
Full title The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up, 1838
Artist Joseph Mallord William Turner
Artist dates 1775 - 1851
Date made 1839
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 90.7 × 121.6 cm
Acquisition credit Turner Bequest, 1856
Inventory number NG524
Location On loan: National Treasures, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Fighting Temeraire
Joseph Mallord William Turner

Turner’s painting shows the final journey of the Temeraire, as the ship is towed from Sheerness in Kent along the river Thames to Rotherhithe in south-east London, where it was to be scrapped. The veteran warship had played a distinguished role in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, but by 1838 was over 40 years old and had been sold off by the Admiralty. When exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1839, the painting was accompanied by lines Turner had adapted from Thomas Campbell’s poem, Ye Mariners of England: ‘The flag which braved the battle and the breeze, / No longer owns her.’

It is unlikely that Turner witnessed the ship being towed; instead, he imaginatively recreated the scene using contemporary reports. Set against a blazing sunset, the last voyage of the Temeraire takes on a greater symbolic meaning, as the age of sail gives way to the age of steam.

Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download a low-resolution copy of this image for personal use.

License this image

License and download a high-resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low-resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Download low-resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo