VIDEO: A Moment in Art History – The Fighting Temeraire – why this JMW Turner piece is “England’s favorite painting”

In this Moment in Art History, we’ll look at Turner’s famous piece, “The Fighting Temeraire.” What makes this piece so iconic, and why did Turner take so many artistic liberties with it?

I also share how a seasick-prone gallery owner (me!) can fall in love with naval art.

My interview with Franny Moyle about her book Turner: The Extraordinary Life and Momentous Times of J.M.W. Turner:

Art in the background of this video:

Shalece Fiack (Landscapes):

Richard Harrington (Barns):

About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of, and founder of the Art Business Academy. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business.


  1. I’ve been a fan of Turner’s for years and read the book you referenced as well. I learned about him through my liberal arts studies in college many years ago and have always remembered him. He was a wonderful artist and thank you for highlighting his work and some of his private life.

  2. I think to really appreciate Turner’s uniqueness, you have to consider the times. His work was far ahead of the conventions of his era. He was an early impressionistic painter whose modern style contrasted greatly with the representational style of the day. I don’t have a strong emotional attachment to Temeraire. I am drawn to his paintings that celebrate motion like “Rain, Steam and Speed.” Here, he seems to have abandoned any attachment to realism and embrace the sensation of raw energy.
    I found the 2014 film, “Mr. Turner,” to be very enlightening and entertaining. It is also especially beautiful in production.
    Thanks for sharing another interesting moment.

  3. I love “Moments in Art History” love, love, love.
    I grew up and went to Art School in York, England. But never really appreciated all the art around me.
    The gallery in Exhibition Square was a treasure, but I only visited when instructed to do so by my art teachers. What an ignorant youth I was. It is with great pleasure that I watch this little series. Thank you so much.

  4. I love Turner. I might have shared this before. It’s a poem I wrote about his piece titled The Slave Ship. I was so upset about the subject matter of the piece that I had to write about it.

    Joseph and the Slave Ship

    Joseph, splattered in oiled ground, like a sailor sprayed with the sea,
    Pushed, steered, smeared;
    Navigated pied butter,
    Until concurring where it would live.
    Wielding impasto into fervor.

    Every hue somehow muddied,
    Slathered and scumbled,
    Scraped and scratched,
    Misted and muddled,
    To benthic fury.

    Consumed, the cusp of time birthing the world, violent, brilliant, unrelenting.
    The coagulating clouds thicken like Dragon’s Blood.
    All of blazed creation, a haunting.
    A scaffolding of enterprise cutting through turbulent salty foam; slapping, cutting waves
    To a rising–rising citron aria, mocking the last fatal moments of the lawless nightmare below.

    Joseph Mallord William Turner, The Slave Ship, 1840

  5. His watercolours are also stunning .I don’t have a favorite.

    I’ve seen “The burning of the Houses of Parliament”,the version in Philadelphia, in person; another great oil.

    I think in the painting you showcased there is a message about the Industrial revolution. A steam driven tug is pulling the sailing ship to it’s graveyard.

  6. It is indeed a powerful painting made even more so with the reflections on the water and the magnificent sky. I too love sea paintings especially those old warships or clipper ships in full sale. I have a very old steel engraving of Lord Nelson’s last signal at Trafalger In its original frame with old bubbly glass that has hung in my home for many years. Thanks for the great video presentation!

  7. I was fortunate to see the exhibit of 92 of JMW Turner’s watercolors and 4 oil paintings last February at the Mystic Seaport Museum near where I live in Connecticut. They were all on loan from the Tate Gallery. The only problem was that the lighting was not as bright as I would have liked – this no doubt a requirement from the Tate to preserve the works. I noticed a similar low light at a Pissarro exhibit in Philadelphia many years ago. Turner’s paintings appear brighter in several books I have but it was a great privilege to see the works in person.

  8. I too love Turner’s work, and can see how much experience with painting seascapes and ships he has. The atmosphere he creates is just wonderful. I love this series you are producing Jason, thanks for sharing moments in art history.

  9. Thanks for the video, Jason. I became a lover of the sea and sailing over the years plus I’m an avid reader of military history. This overview of “The Fighting Temeraire” checks a lot of boxes for my interests.

  10. I too love anything about the sea! I agree with Chris Martin’s comments although I do like Turner’s “The Fighting Temeraire” – it stirs a lot of melancholy feeling about time past. And, Tina Huston’s poem, “Joseph and the Slave Ship” is wonderful, strong and emotional and made me feel as tho I was standing there watching Turner paint it!!!
    At times I like to write poetry as well and Tina is a really, really good poet!! I will try to find more of her works.
    Many Thanks for these short moments In Art History, Jason – perfect as there is little time to otherwise read books about all of it. They are wonderful and your presentation is accurate and concise and fulfilling.

  11. As a very senior Art History major, i found your review extremely informative and interesting. Thank you for the wonderful memories of JMW Turner.

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