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
- The Shipwreck
- Stormy Sea with Blazing Wreck. Plate
- Slave Ship — Ruskin's famous description in Modern Painters
- A Wreck, with Fishing Boats
- A Ship Aground, Yarmouth; Sample Study
- Whalers (Boiling Blubber) Entangled in Flaw Ice, Endeavouring to Extricate Themselves
- The Wreck of a Transport Ship (1810; Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon) •••
Last modified 28 October 2020