A landmark exhibition exploring JMW Turner’s lifelong fascination with the sea is to open at the National Maritime Museum this week.


Bringing together a collection of masterpieces from around the world, Turner and the Sea celebrates the artist’s pioneering and often controversial approach to capturing the power of seascapes.

Highlights include The Fighting Temeraire, voted ‘Britain’s favourite painting’ in a 2005 Radio 4 poll, and Wreck of a Transport Ship, not seen in the UK for nearly 40 years.

The exhibition promises to confirm Turner’s status as the pre-eminent painter of water.

His works will be shown alongside that of other major British and European artists, including Willem van de Velde, Claude-Joseph Vernet, Thomas Gainsborough, Nicholas Pocock, John Constable and Richard Parkes Bonington.

Here, curator Christine Riding describes five of the works featured in the exhibition.

Turner and the Sea, featuring 120 pieces, will be on display at the National Maritime Museum from 22 November 2013 until 21 April 2014


The Shipwreck
Harbour Scene with a Lighthouse and a Portico
by Claude Lorrain, c1638–41
© British Museum, London


Moonlight at Sea (The Needles)
by J.M.W. Turner, c1818
© Tate: Bequeathed by Henry Vaughan 1900


by J.M.W. Turner, c1811
© Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection


The Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805
by J.M.W. Turner, 1823–24
Oil on canvas
© National Maritime Museum (Greenwich Hospital Collection)


A First Rate Man-of-War, Driving on a Reef of Rocks, and Foundering in a Tempest
by George Philip Reinagle, 1827
Oil on canvas
© Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter