I quite like the detail of the title putting the viewer in a specific place to watch the scene. I also like the complicated composition, with waves reaching into the air to mingle with the smoke of gunpowder, sails billowing from various ships, showing the complex mess of a sea battle in which sailors are battling the wind and waves as well as the opposition. And the tiny figures of the seamen, dwarfed by their ships.
Turner took a different approach a decade later when he painted 'The Field of Waterloo', rather than showing signs of martial victory and jubilation he shows a more realistic view of the aftermath of war, with piles of bodies and women searching for their menfolk. The dramatic lighting and billowing smoke add to the effect. When the painting went on tour (as happened back then) it was accompanied by a line of poetry from Byron, 'friend and foe in one red burial blent'.
Continuing with social commentary a room of the exhibition is given over to paintings considered to be potentially upsetting to visitors, with a sign at the doorway reading, 'Content Guidance. Artworks in this room depict human suffering and the deaths of enslaved people.' A timely reminder that slavery wasn't abolished until 1807 and 1833 in the overseas colonies and territories.
And there you have it, the biggest exhibition of Turner's paintings for a long time, all on the theme of reflecting the changing world and society he lived in. I was very lucky to visit when I did, when it was so empty so I could enjoy the paintings without crowds. I hope the Tate extends the run of the exhibition to take into account the lockdowns since I'd love to visit again. If you can, it's well worth a visit.