The Battle of Trafalgar (painting)

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The Battle of Trafalgar

The Battle of Trafalgar is an oil-on-canvas painting, created by J.M.W. Turner in 1824. The painting was ordered by King George IV for the Painted Hall at Greenwich, as a pendant for Louthebourg's Lord Howe's action, or the Glorious First of June. It shows the Royal Navy ship HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. It was controversial at the time, since it was not considered to be historically accurate. Turner chose to combine events from several times during the battle:

  • Lord Nelson's famous signal ("England expects that every man will do his duty") flies from the Victory (11:50). Turner shows the signal flags flying from the main-mast, though in reality they would have been flown from the mizzen-mast and were replaced with the signal for "engage the enemy more closely" when the battle commenced.
  • The top-foremast falls (13:00).
  • The Achille is on fire in the background (late afternoon).
  • The Redoutable sinks in the foreground (following day).


  • Tracy, Nicholas. Nelson's Battles: The Art of Victory in the Age of Sail. Chatham Publishing, 1996. (p 194)
  • Geoffrey Quilley, 'The Battle of the Pictures: Painting the History of Trafalgar', in David Cannadine (ed.), Trafalgar in History: A Battle and its Afterlife, (London: Macmillan, 2006), pages 121–138

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