Fishermen at Sea was the first oil painting Turner exhibited at the Royal Academy. It is a moonlit scene in the tradition of Horace Vernet, Philip James de Loutherbourg and Joseph Wright of Derby. These painters were largely responsible for fuelling the eighteenth-century vogue for nocturnal subjects. The painting also reflects the fashion for Sublime subjects, which gave viewers a sense of the overwhelming power of nature. The boldness of the moonlight contrasts with the weakness of the flickering lantern, emphasising nature's hold over the fishermen's fate. The rocks on the left are the Needles, off the Isle of Wight.