This subject is one of the four that Turner produced in response to Lord Mansfield’s commission for views of Christ Church College (see under Tate D02364; Turner Bequest L W). Patrick Youngblood notes that the lighting scheme of this study is the reverse of the finished watercolour (private collection),1 in which the gate is fully lit, the interior of its central arch in shadow. He consequently doubts that the two are directly related;2 but it seems clear that, while Turner made numerous alterations to his design in the course of realising it (including, most conspicuously, the trees and buildings at the right), he did indeed develop the one from the other. He also presumably made use of a schematic sketch of the layout of the gate’s façade (Tate D08192; Turner Bequest CXIX E).
The other three Mansfield watercolours are Christ Church, Oxford, from near Carfax (National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa),3 Tom Tower from the Canons’ Garden (private collection)4 and Christ Church Hall from the Staircase (Leeds Art Gallery).5 For other preparatory drawings for the commission see the 1795 South Wales sketchbook (Tate D00659; Turner Bequest XXVI 97), and Tate D02348 and D02364 (Turner Bequest L G, W).
Blank; stamped in brown ink with Turner Bequest monogram.