Joseph Mallord William Turner: Dawn after the Wreck

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watercolor and red chalk image of seascape with red clouds, dog, and moon

Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
Dawn after the Wreck
c. 1841
Watercolor, gouache, and touches of red chalk with some rubbing out and scraping
Samuel Courtauld Trust: Gift in memory of Sir Stephen Courtauld, 1974

In spite of its title — invented by the Victorian critic John Ruskin — this watercolor does not directly depict the aftermath of a shipwreck. Several elements do, however, imbue the coastal scene with a sense of solitude and even despair: the intense crimson clouds, the “feeble blood-stain on the sand” (to quote Ruskin), and the lone howling dog.

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