About this artwork
In Fishing Boats with Hucksters Bargaining for Fish, Joseph Mallord William Turner translated his enduring preoccupation with the sea into a dramatic vision. The subject itself and the painting’s low horizon line derive directly from seventeenth-century Dutch sea painting. But where the boats in the seascapes of the period are almost reconstructible in their exactness, Turner’s minimal and more impressionistic depiction of vessels is secondary to the drama of roiling seas, billowing sails, and a threatening sky. With just a few figurative details, Turner roughly sketched in the standing, gesturing figure on the right, who is negotiating to buy fish from the larger, crowded fishing boat on the left. Between them is a mythical golden boat that seems to spring from the artist’s imagination, and on the distant horizon is the suggestion of progress, a steam-driven vessel. With his manipulation of translucent and opaque pigments to create a sense of atmosphere and light, Turner alluded to the insignificance of man in the face of nature’s mysterious and sublime power.
- Joseph Mallord William Turner
- Fishing Boats with Hucksters Bargaining for Fish
- Oil on canvas
- Inscribed on top flag of nearest boat: J.M.W. Turner
- 174.5 × 224.9 cm (68 3/4 × 88 1/2 in.)
- Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Kimball Collection