Turner's Battle of Trafalgar gallery

Cutty Sark closure

Visitor notice: Cutty Sark will be closed on Sunday 1 March for the Vitality Big Half Marathon. The Park Row car park will also be closed to the public all weekend. On 29 February and 1 March access to the National Maritime Museum and Queen's House will be via the Romey Road or William Walk gates. Our other museum sites will be open as usual. Plan your visit

Essential information

Opening times: 
10am–5pm daily
National Maritime Museum, Ground floor, Battle of Trafalgar gallery

J.M.W. Turner’s largest painting, The Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805, is one of the jewels of our fine art collection. See it for free at the National Maritime Museum.

The finished painting - Turner's most publicly controversial - contains a number of incidents from different times during the battle. The falling mast may be an allusion to Nelson’s death, while code flags spell out ‘d-u-t-y’, both the last word of Nelson’s signal to the British fleet at the start of the battle, and the last words he reportedly spoke. In the foreground British seamen try to save fellow and enemy crew from the bloodied sea.

At the time, the painting provoked criticism for its non-chronological approach to Nelson's victory and its powerful allusions to the human price of Britain's triumph at sea.

More about the Battle of Trafalgar

More about J.M.W. Turner

Visit the Nelson, Navy, Nation gallery

See Yinka Shonibare MBE's Nelson's Ship in a Bottle