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Past Exhibition

Portsmouth

watercolor of ships and small boats on open water with city in background

Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
Portsmouth, 1824
For The Ports of England
Watercolor on paper
6 5/16 x 9 7/16 in. (16 x 24 cm)
Tate; Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
© Tate, London 2016

Turner captures the vibrancy of the harbor of Portsmouth, the oldest base in the Royal Navy, looking back from the water. The over life-size man-of-war cutting across turbulent water conveys a sense of England’s military might, while townspeople in small crafts grapple with the elements. At the far right is the tower of the Admiralty Semaphore, from which signals were relayed to London.