Shipwreck off Hastings William Turner Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Turner was a passionate painter of maritime themes and took on shipwrecks, and other incidents of peril on the waves, within his career on numerous occasions.

The artist produced a good number of paintings on the Isle of Wight but also worked frequently on the mainland too, such as this artwork which focuses on a shipwreck in the tourist town of Hastings. It is a location filled with history even today and we can make out the cliffs of this region on the right hand side of this canvas. Elements of a ship reach out into the air, desperately fighting against the relentless waves that slowly drag it downwards. The elements are aggressively depicted, with both sea and sky looking in a no mood to relent on this damaged vessel.

Turner would work tirelessly at perfecting his landscape and seascape techniques, producing endless numbers of study drawings in small sketchbooks that he could easily carry around on his person. Constructing full oil paintings was not easy to do outside at this time, with so many tools needed. He would often prefer to work through experimental drawings before then returning to his studio in order to take on the more complex medium of oils. It would have been hard to achieve the precision of his landscapes outdoors, with so many layers to be added in a long and meticulous process.

The piece is dated as 1825 and was Bequeathed by Henry Vaughan in 1900 to the National Gallery of Ireland. It was completed using mainly watercolours, though there are some additional touches of gum which add an element of heightened colour to the finish. Their own description of the piece describes how Turner loved to display the futility of man against the will of nature and this theme can be seen in a good number of his seascapes, as well as a series of snow storms. Visitors to this impressive gallery will also be able to find original artworks from the likes of Diego Velazquez, Goya, Caravaggio and Vermeer.