Other PicoMicroYacht

Monday, 8 December 2014

Did I see the Fighting Temeraire?

Post-note for the previous blog: It was up these reaches that the Fighting Temeraire had been towed to be scrapped at Rotherhithe, captured in the famous oil painting by Joseph Mallord William Turner, now in the London National Gallery.

As the tug strained, the sun was setting below a salmon red sky. Turner was there in his rowing boat just in time to witness the last voyage of the old ship, sketching frenetically in watercolors to capture the moment . The Literary Gazette wrote at the time of Mr Turner's subsequent oil painting "the sun of the glorious vessel... setting in a flood of light... typifying the departing glories of the old Temeraire."

In the film 'Mr Turner' there is a scene that recreates this event with historical accuracy using CGI.

Well not quite. Turner wasn't there. The voyage was up the Thames Estuary coming from the east and the sun would have been setting in the west. The masts and rigging had been removed before it had set off and it was towed by two tugs.

But in his mind's eye Mr Turner saw the scene that he depicted and that's good enough for me.

'As I rowed down the Thames, I  turned my head and for a moment I am sure I saw that old ship making it's way upstream towards me, the paddle wheels of the tug clanking softly. I adjusted PicoMicroYacht's course to avoid it, making a mental note to keep looking round every so often until it was clear.'

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