The Marine Paintings of Malcolm Armstrong
Oil Paintings of Ships and the Sea

Temeraire by Turner


The original oil painting by Joseph Mallord William Turner is 91cm x 122cm. It hangs in The National Gallery in London.

After a distinguished 40 year career as a ship of the line in the Royal Navy, including fighting alongside Nelson's "Victory" at Trafalgar, Temeraire was towed up the River Thames to a breaker's yard in September of 1838. This is one of Turner's best known paintings and he must have been very fond of it because he would not sell it to anyone. The painting has been reproduced by many publishers in books and web sites. In one of the pub;lications, it says "Turner's work cannot be reproduced. Even the best print only serves to awaken one's curiosity about the original". Consequently one reprodution appears very different from another. Even so I have chosen to try and copy the one I liked best. It is some years since I saw the original in The National Gallery, so I cannot be sure how close to the original I have come. The dimensions of my painting are 41cm x 51cm (16in x 20in), not quite the same proportions as the original. More errors crept in when I photographed my own painting; as with Turner's work, it is difficult to get a perfect reproduction. My painting, Temeraire, after Turner is on this web site in the Sailing Warships gallery.

I am attracted to this painting by Turner because I am a marine artist and a seaman and because Turner used my favourite colours. If I were painting this event from scratch in my own way I would do it differently; I have not painted my own version of the scene nor have I painted my interpretation of Turner; I have tried to copy a particular reproduction of one of Turner's greatest works. Turner did not put much detail in the ships and some of the detail and some of the lighting is a mystery, but the overall effect is wondderful and the composition is worth studying. Mixing and matching Turner's colours was a challenge.

Malcolm C. Armstrong