'The Fighting Temeraire',
Full title: 'The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her Last
Berth to be broken up, 1838'
by Joseph Mallord Turner
London, The National Gallery.
For 2007/08, the one-day 'Take One
Picture' Continuing Professional Development courses,
run by National Gallery Education, focused on 'The Fighting
Temeraire' by Turner.
The course looked at ways of using paintings in the
classroom as a starting point for delivering many areas
of the National Curriculum. This principle aligns closely
with the DfES
Primary National Strategy: Excellence and Enjoyment,
which supports a holistic approach to the curriculum
by exploiting the links between subject areas.
The painting shows the final journey of the Temeraire,
a celebrated gunship which had fought valiantly in Lord
Nelson's fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Thirty-three
years later, decaying and no longer in use, she was
towed 55 miles up the Thames from Sheerness to be broken
up in a Rotherhithe shipyard. The Temeraire was a 98-gun,
three-decked battle ship that had been launched in 1798,
during the French revolutionary war. Her name means
bold or fearless in French.
Turner's painting pays tribute to the Temeraire's heroic
past. The gunship, painted delicately in light tones,
seems to float effortlessly on the calm waters, giving
it a ghostly appearance. The glorious sunset behind
is a fanfare of colour in her honour. Just as the day
is drawing to a close, so too is the life of the Temeraire.
The nostalgic and melancholy mood of the painting is
emphasised by the fact that she can no longer travel
by the power of her own sails; they have been furled
for the last time and a steamboat tugs her in to shore.
Turner paints the two boats in stark contrast to one
another: the steamboat moves ahead of the grand gunship,
squat, dirty and ugly by comparison.
here to view work
from the 2009 exhibition, inspired by this painting.
© The National Gallery,