This is a moonlit seascape with boats struggling through stormy waters and seagulls flying ahead. The moonlight contrasts with the delicate vulnerability of the flickering lantern, emphasising nature’s power over mankind and the fishermen’s fate in particular.
Joseph Mallord William Turner
Fishermen at Sea
91.4 x 122.2 cm
Oil on canvas
Date of work
Original: Oil on canvas, 91.4 x 122.2 cm ® Tate, London
Joseph Mallord William Turner was born in London; he remained a Londoner and kept a Cockney accent all his life despite dominating British landscape painting throughout the first half of the 19th century. He established a reputation in the Royal Academy, first as a topographical watercolourist and then within a few years as a painter of sublime and historical landscapes. From the mid-1790s he settled on the routine he maintained for much of his life: touring in summer and working in the studio in the winter months. He opened his own gallery and had many patrons and admirers as well as detractors. After his death a large body of his works in oil and watercolour was given to the British nation, with many on show at Tate Britain.