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Turner’s painting shows the final journey of the Temeraire, as the ship is towed from Sheerness in Kent along the river Thames to Rotherhithe in south-east London, where it was to be scrapped. The veteran warship had played a distinguished role in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, but by 1838 was over 40 years old and had been sold off by the Admiralty. When exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1839, the painting was accompanied by lines Turner had adapted from Thomas Campbell’s poem, Ye Mariners of England: ‘The flag which braved the battle and the breeze, / No longer owns her.’
Oil on canvas
H 90.7 x W 121.6 cm
Turner Bequest, 1856