The Battle of Trafalgar, as Seen from the Mizen Starboard Shrouds of the Victory by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851). 1806-8. Oil on canvas, 1708 x 2388 mm. Courtesy of Tate Britain (Accession no. NO0480. Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856). Click on image to enlarge it.

Commentary from Tate Britain Online (2010)

Turner made close observation of the ships shown here, but the painting of the battle in which Admiral Nelson died is not simply detailed reportage. Sails and cannon smoke arrest the eye, creating a claustrophobic backdrop, while the action appears to thrust outwards. The viewer is confronted by both the chaos of battle and the intimate tragedy of Nelson’s final moments. A contemporary reviewer termed this a ‘British epic picture...the first picture of the kind that has ever...been exhibited’.

Last modified 14 May 2016