Keelmen Heaving in Coals by Moonlight, 1835
Oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, The Widener Collection
Stevedores called keelmen transferred coal from barges, or keels, to oceangoing vessels. The glow of their torches contrasts with the 'funnel of creamy light emanating from the moon'.
Turner painted this scene on the River Tyne, near the mining city of Newcastle. It was just a year after he had sketched the burning of the Houses of Parliament from a boat in the River Thames.
Turner saw interest and beauty wherever he looked. He was the master of waterscapes.
This painting, which has come back to England from across the Atlantic, can be seen in the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery in the show entitled Turner Inspired: in the Light of Claude, through June 5th.