National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of The Junction of the Thames and the Medway Joseph Mallord William Turner (artist)
British, 1775 - 1851
The Junction of the Thames and the Medway, 1807
oil on canvas
overall: 108.8 x 143.7 cm (42 13/16 x 56 9/16 in.) framed: 148 x 180.3 cm (58 1/4 x 71 in.)
Widener Collection
1942.9.87
Not on View
From the Tour: Constable and Turner — British Landscapes of the Early 1800s
Object 3 of 11

Turner, who earned an early reputation for producing accurate topographical views, opened his own private sales gallery, where he exhibited this turbulent seascape. Based on notes in the artist’s sketchbooks, the scene is the wide mouth of the Thames joining the North Sea, where the smaller River Medway further churns the waves. To the south, the town on the far shore is the seaport of Sheerness.

To heighten the storm’s impact, Turner artfully manipulated the lighting in this composition. The sails at the right, for instance, are brilliantly silhouetted against the dark clouds. In actuality, however, the sun is obscured high in the sky behind the thunderheads, making it impossible for sunbeams to strike those ships from the side.

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