Joseph Mallord William Turner

Oxford: The High Street, Looking West towards Carfax

c.1798

View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 408 x 508 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D08219
Turner Bequest CXX F

Catalogue entry

Finberg1 (followed by John Gage)2 considered this the drawing on which Turner based the painting he executed for the Oxford frame-maker and art dealer James Wyatt (1774–1853; not to be confused with the architect of the same name, 1746–1813, also associated with Turner), and exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1810 (private collection, on loan to Ashmolean Museum, Oxford);3 Finberg cited4 the letter from Turner to James Wyatt postmarked 25 December 1809, in which he requests ‘a sheet of paper pasted down on a Board in readiness about 2 feet by 19 [inches]’ (610 x 483 mm);5 but as Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll remark, that drawing is lost.6 The present study may have been referred to, though it is clearly an earlier work, as Colin Harrison acknowledges.7 A study of the three churches alone (their tower and spires), probably executed while Turner was at work on the painting, is in a private collection. Turner’s original intention in making this large drawing of the High Street may have been to evolve a subject for his Oxford Almanack commission; compare Tate D00666 (Turner Bequest XXVII E), a smaller study taken from almost exactly the same viewpoint.
1
Finberg 1909, I, p.328.
2
Gage 1980, p.38.
3
Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.73–4 no.102, pl.109 (colour).
4
A.J. Finberg (died 1939), undated MS note in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, I, p.328.
5
Gage 1980, letter no.28.
6
Butlin and Joll 1984, p.73.
7
See Harrison 2000, pp.78–9.
Technical notes:
The sheet is stained, torn and dirty, and folded vertically at the centre, and in other places.
Verso:
Blank; inscribed by a later hand in pencil ‘Oxford High St’; not stamped.

Andrew Wilton
March 2013

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