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The Battle of Trafalgar, as Seen from the Mizen Starboard Shrouds of the Victory, Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1806–8, © Tate, London
This oil on canvas painting by Turner represents the moment Nelson was hit with the final shot. You can see him lying left of centre and if you draw your eye towards the top right you see the smoking gun of the French marksman, high in the rigging of his ship, the Redoutable.
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The painting can be found in the Tate's collection in London. Tate Images is part of Tate Enterprises Limited, the trading arm, of Tate. All its profits is covenanted to Tate each year and plays a vital role in supporting all four of its galleries, Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool and Tate St. Ives.
Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) is one of the most beloved of British painters; an alchemist working in paint. For Turner, light was the purest expression of spirituality on Earth, and it was this deep belief which prompted him in his work. Against this transcendence, Turner often placed man in all of his sympathetic absurdity. Although Turner was a great inspiration to Monet and other Impressionists, these painters sought to express the visual affect of light rather than the emotional.
Those who had the chance to observe Turner sketching relate that he would often jot down impressions, allow them to gestate for a few days while he sat idle, then in a burst of inspiration add colour and feeling.
The London-born Turner found refuge in his work from early childhood, when his mother was put into hospital suffering from mental illness. Raised by the Thames and then sent to Margate, water was a constant presence in Turner’s early life.
It was stated about Turner by the great art critic John Ruskin that he could best “stirringly and truthfully measure the moods of Nature,” and he was recognized for elevating landscape paintings from mere illustrations into works of provocation. Fittingly, Turner’s last words were said to be, “The Sun is God.” For more information about Turner, refer to his Wikipedia page.
The art critic John Ruskin, closely associated with Turner, owned a sketch which he believed was a key to the finished painting The Battle of Trafalgar, as Seen from the Mizen Starboard Shrouds of the Victory, which Turner started painting in 1806. The key is especially helpful because Turner’s strength did not lie in portraiture, and although the central characters were known to Turner in life, this is not reflected in their faces in the painting.
Although the sketch, key and accompanying description were damaged in the Thames flood of 1928, they were later deciphered by the Tate through ultra-violet scanning and the names compared against the roll of the ship. Along with the identities and locations of the injured Lord Nelson and his Lieutenant Pasco, the key tells us that Turner may have intended to paint flags on deck showing a compound signal communicating Nelson’s final caution at Trafalgar, “Engage the enemy more closely”, instead of the sole French flag that the painting was widely believed to depict. More information about the key and the painting itself is on the Tate Britain website.
Macclesfield was once the centre of the English silk weaving industry and the world's biggest producer of finished silk. The area has been printing silk for over 300 years and at one point had over seventy mills operating in the town. The town is close to a water supply that passes through limestone, and when used in washing and dyeing it gives silk a uniquely attractive lustre.
Our silk linings are printed at a mill that has been producing printed fabric on the same site for the past fifty years and the process uses water sourced from its own reservoir.
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