A Disaster at Sea by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851). c. 1835[?]. Oil on canvas, 1714 x 2203 mm. Courtesy of Tate Britain (Accession no. NO0588. Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856.) Click on this and the image below to enlarge them. The one below is from a photograph taken at the "Turner's Modern World" exhibition at the Tate (2020-21) by Jacqueline Banerjee.

Commentary from Tate Britain Online (2010)

This canvas was never exhibited and is probably unfinished, but remains one of Turner's most powerful statements on the Romantic theme of maritime disaster. Its pyramidal composition leaves little doubt that Turner had seen Géricault's Raft of the Medusa (now in the Louvre, Paris) described by one critic as ‘this tremendous picture of human sufferings’, when it was exhibited in London in 1822. Turner's own subject is the wreck of the Amphitrite off Boulogne in 1833. The ship's captain abandoned his cargo of female convicts, claiming that he was only authorised to land them in New South Wales.

Detail of drowning people.

See Tate Britain Online for full catalogue entry, including provenance, exhibition history, and bibliography (including mentions by Ruskin).

Some other Turnerian Shipwrecks & Ships in Peril

Last modified 28 October 2020