Petworth House was a large residence which was well deserving on the talents of Turner and the Earl paid him handsomely for this large series of commissioned pieces. It is located in West Sussex and also features a surrounding parks within the grounds. Turner completed several landscape paintings within the area itself but also went further afield for others. This painting is believed to have been completed in Yarmouth, and is sometimes known as the alternative title of A Ship Aground, Yarmouth; Sample Study. It is dated at around 1827-1828.
Turner completed this painting using standard oils and would have considered the areas of the house in which they were to be hung when planning the paintings, including each one's size and lighting balance. A darker piece, such as Fishermen at Sea may not have worked well, for example, in rooms which did not receive much natural light via the windows. The artwork that we find here is very light in nature and also particularly wide, in relation to its length. It would have been able to stretch across a large wall, measuring around 1700cm wide once the frame had been added.
The painting itself features a large ship on the right hand side of the composition, leaning awkwardly on its side. Sails are hanging limply and it appears that the sea water is already starting to drag the ship onto its side. We have included a larger image of the artwork below so that you can spot more of the original detail added by the artist. Aside from that, the near points are dominated by the flowing waves, whilst the bright sky covers a good proportion of the rest of the painting. There are some other vessels in the background too, perhaps on their way to help this stricken ship in its hour of need. It remains a part of the Tate collection in the UK and is considered one of Turner's finest seascapes, which was a genre in which he worked on many occasions.