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Turner can have been no more than thirteen when he painted this simple prospect of Oxford from North Hinksey. Although the composition devotes over two-thirds of the available space to the sky, there is no sense of this having been sketched from nature. Rather, the way the sky is painted is typical of the often perfunctory blue and wash drawings made by most late eighteenth-century topographers, who were more concerned with the accurate representation of a specific place than with recording the transient effects of nature.

September 2004