Unlike most of the watercolours in this display, this work is fully resolved and would have been considered 'finished'
by Turner and his contemporaries. It
was probably intended to form part
of the long series of watercolours that were published in engraved form as Picturesque Views in England and
Wales between 1827 and 1839.
Turner had been a regular visitor to Oxford since his adolescence. He
was repeatedly called on to record
its architecture in pictures intended
for commercial reproduction. Here
he focuses on repairs taking place to Merton College, rooting his ethereal scene in essential practicalities.