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An English Ship at Sea Lying-To in a Gale

Photo credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

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In the left foreground a small ship, in port bow view, is shown in a heavy sea. It is lying-to on the starboard tack and its mainsail is half-lowered with the sheets or lines flying freely. Silhouetted figures are visible climbing the rigging above high waves crashing against the hull. In the right distance is another ship close-hauled on the starboard tack with three sails visible. Three-quarters of the painting is taken up with the sky and the artist has used light to enhance the dramatic effect of the painting. Brilliant yellow occupies the sky to the left of the picture and slashes across the sky behind the principal ship. The upper part of the sky on the right graduates in colour from pink, orange and red to deep purple to create an effect of menace and potential danger to the vessels. Light is reflected along the crests of the waves towards the horizon.

National Maritime Museum





oil on canvas


H 32 x W 38 cm

Accession number


Work type



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National Maritime Museum

Romney Road, Greenwich, London, Greater London SE10 9NF England

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