Dort or Dordrecht: The Dort packet-boat from Rotterdam becalmed

J. M. W. Turner1818

Yale Center for British Art

Yale Center for British Art
New Haven, CT, United States

J. M.W. Turner made his second Continental tour in 1817 in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars and passed through Dordrecht on his way home. This view, one of Turner’s masterpieces, was painted after his return to London in December 1817 and was exhibited at the Royal Academy in April 1818. The Swan, a packet boat from Rotterdam, is traveling down the river Meuse towards Dordrecht and is being provisioned by passing boats while it is becalmed. A vision of peaceful serenity, the picture contrasted with Turner’s other exhibit that year, a view of the bloody battlefield of Waterloo by moonlight. In Dort, Turner was emulating the celebrated Dutch painter Aelbert Cuyp (1620–1691), whose work was avidly collected by British connoisseurs. The painting’s extraordinary luminosity and brightness of color dazzled the critics, one claiming it was “one of the most magnificent pictures ever exhibited.” John Constable was probably referring to this picture when, many years later, he remembered it as “the most complete work of genius I ever saw.”

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2022


  • Title: Dort or Dordrecht: The Dort packet-boat from Rotterdam becalmed
  • Creator: Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1775–1851, British
  • Creator Lifespan: 1775/1851
  • Creator Nationality: British
  • Creator Gender: male
  • Date Created: 1818
  • Physical Dimensions: 62 x 92 inches (157.5 x 233.7 cm) Frame: 73 x 102 x 5 inches (185.4 x 259.1 x 12.7 cm)
  • Subject Keywords: rowboats, ship, ships, jars, costume, flags, marine art, seascape, market (event), women, reflection, sunlight, chromaticity, men, church, rubbish, fruit, sea, river, city, crowd, floatsam, vegetables, cityscape
  • External Link: See this work of art on the Yale Center for British Art website
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Repository Name: Yale Center for British Art
  • Credit Line: Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

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