National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Rotterdam Ferry-Boat Joseph Mallord William Turner (artist)
British, 1775 - 1851
Rotterdam Ferry-Boat, 1833
oil on canvas
overall: 92.3 x 122.5 cm (36 5/16 x 48 1/4 in.) framed: 115.6 x 146 x 7.6 cm (45 1/2 x 57 1/2 x 3 in.)
Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection
1970.17.135
On View
From the Tour: Constable and Turner — British Landscapes of the Early 1800s
Object 5 of 11

This seascape was exhibited in 1833 at the Royal Academy, where Turner taught as the professor of perspective. Conquering the problem of creating a believable sense of space across a featureless expanse of water, Turner anchored the carefully aligned design upon a small passenger ferry. From this foreground focus, a row of larger ships moves backward over the choppy waves on a diagonal line, generating a remarkable illusion of depth. The warship’s Dutch flags and the skyline of Rotterdam pay tribute to Turner’s predecessors, the marine painters of seventeenth-century Holland. In particular, the low horizon and cloud-swept vista derive from harbor scenes by Jan van Goyen and Aelbert Cuyp.

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