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The seven-by-five-meter canvas of a historic wreck is as close as some of us get to the horror. Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa is a graphic depiction of catastrophe as a French frigate sinks off Senegal; the desperate seafarers at the full mercy of a storm, the sea …and each other.

Turner’s The Loss of an East Indiaman captures the full force of a wreck as a Dorset community responds to the incident; Captain Pierce and his daughters among the many souls lost as the Halsewell, bound for Madras, was blown on to the rocks in 1786.

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