Joseph M. W. Turner: The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up (1839)


(National Gallery, London, UK)

A painting by the English artist Joseph M. W. Turner (1775-1851). This well known painting by Turner, shows the last voyage of the HMS Temeraire as it is towed away to be broken up for scrap. The HMS Temeraire was a 98-gun ship which had fought during the battle of Trafalgar in 1805 were she played a crucial role. After the Napoleonic wars the ship served as various other roles until it was sold for scrap in 1838. The ship was bought by John Beatson, a shipbreaker based at Rotherhithe, for £5,530. Several parts of the ship were sold as souvenirs. Turner has used some artistic licence with the painting: all of her cannon, anchors and assorted hardware had been removed and salvaged for the navy, she was towed by two tugboats, not just one and in the other direction. Painting from 1839.

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