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The Fighting Temeraire

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss The Fighting Temeraire, JMW Turner's painting of a famous ship from the Battle of Trafalgar on its way to a breakers' yard on the Thames.

This image: Joseph Mallord William Turner, The Fighting Temeraire, 1839 (c) The National Gallery, London

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'.


Susan Foister
Curator of Early Netherlandish, German and British Painting at the National Gallery

David Blayney Brown
Manton Curator of British Art 1790-1850 at Tate Britain


James Davey
Curator of Naval History at the National Maritime Museum

Producer: Simon Tillotson.

Available now

46 minutes

Last on

Thu 10 Nov 2016 21:30


David Blayney Brown at Tate Britain

National Maritime Museum

Turner’s Battle of Trafalgar gallery – National Maritime Museum

Heroine of Trafalgar: The Fighting Temeraire – National Gallery

The Turner Bequest – National Gallery

J. M. W. Turner - Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

The Fighting Temeraire – Wikipedia



David Blayney Brown, Amy Concannon and Sam Smiles (eds.), Late Turner: Painting Set Free: exhibition catalogue (Tate Britain, 2014)

Tim Clayton and Phil Craig, Trafalgar: The Men, the Battle, the Storm (Hodder, 2005)

James Davey, In Nelson’s Wake: The Navy and the Napoleonic Wars (Yale University Press, 2015)

Judy Egerton, Making and Meaning: The Fighting Temeraire: exhibition catalogue (National Gallery, 1995)

Brian Lavery, Nelson’s Navy: The Ships, Men and Organisation 1793-1815 (Conway, 2013)

Brian Lavery, Building the Wooden Walls: The Design and Construction of the 74 Gun Ship Valiant (Naval Institute Press, 1991)

Christine Riding and Richard Johns (eds.), Turner and the Sea (Thames and Hudson, 2013)

Sam Smiles, JMW Turner (Tate Publishing, 2000)

Barry Venning, Turner (Phaidon Press, 2003)

Ian Warrell, Turner Inspired: In the Light of Claud: exhibition catalogue (National Gallery, 2012)

Sam Willis, The Fighting Temeraire: Legend of Trafalgar (Quercus, 2009)

Rif Winfield, British Warships in the Age of Sail, 1793-1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates (Chatham, 2005)



Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Susan Foister
Interviewed Guest David Blayney Brown
Interviewed Guest James Davey
Producer Simon Tillotson


  • Thu 10 Nov 2016 09:00
  • Thu 10 Nov 2016 21:30

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