The Fighting Temeraire

10 Nov, 2016 750 Painting

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss “The Fighting Temeraire”, one of Turner’s greatest works and the one he called his ‘darling’. It shows one of the most famous ships of the age, a hero of Trafalgar, being towed up the Thames to the breakers’ yard, sail giving way to steam. Turner displayed this masterpiece to a public which, at the time, was deep in celebration of the Temeraire era, with work on Nelson’s Column underway, and it was an immediate success, with Thackeray calling the painting ‘a national ode’.

Play on BBC Sounds website


  • Susan Foister 4 episodes
    Curator of Early Netherlandish, German and British Painting at the National Gallery
  • David Blayney Brown No other episodes
    Manton Curator of British Art 1790-1850 at Tate Britain
  • James Davey 2 episodes
    Curator of Naval History at the National Maritime Museum

Reading list

  • Late Turner: Painting Set Free: exhibition catalogue
    David Blayney Brown, Amy Concannon and Sam Smiles (eds.) (Tate Britain, 2014) Google Books →
  • Trafalgar: The Men, the Battle, the Storm
    Tim Clayton and Phil Craig (Hodder, 2005) Google Books →
  • In Nelson's Wake: The Navy and the Napoleonic Wars
    James Davey (Yale University Press, 2015) Google Books →
  • Making and Meaning: The Fighting Temeraire: exhibition catalogue
    Judy Egerton (National Gallery, 1995)
  • Nelson's Navy: The Ships, Men and Organisation 1793-1815
    Brian Lavery (Conway, 2013) Google Books →
  • Building the Wooden Walls: The Design and Construction of the 74 Gun Ship Valiant
    Brian Lavery (Naval Institute Press, 1991) Google Books →
  • Turner and the Sea
    Christine Riding and Richard Johns (eds.) (Thames and Hudson, 2013) Google Books →
  • JMW Turner
    Sam Smiles (Tate Publishing, 2000)
  • Turner
    Barry Venning (Phaidon Press, 2003) Google Books →
  • Turner Inspired: In the Light of Claud: exhibition catalogue
    Ian Warrell (National Gallery, 2012) Google Books →
  • The Fighting Temeraire: Legend of Trafalgar
    Sam Willis (Quercus, 2009) Google Books →
  • British Warships in the Age of Sail, 1793-1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates
    Rif Winfield (Chatham, 2005) Google Books →

Related episodes

Programme ID: b081r260

Episode page:

Auto-category: 759.2 (British painting, 1800-1899)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, The Fighting Temeraire from 1839 is one of Turner's greatest works, the one he called his darling.