Joseph Mallord William Turner

Christ Church and St Aldate’s, Oxford


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 120 × 203 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXXXVIII 1

Catalogue entry

Looking north up St Aldate’s, Oxford, the south-west corner of Christ Church college is seen on the right of this slight sketch, with Tom Tower beyond. As Finberg recognised,1 it formed the basis of the much-elaborated watercolour Christ Church College, Oxford (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford),2 engraved in 1832 for Turner’s Picturesque Views in England and Wales. An inscription of three or four words at the bottom centre is largely illegible.
Turner worked repeatedly around Oxford in his early career, and returned periodically.3 Exterior studies of Christ Church from the early 1790s include Tate D00115, D00154 and D00155 (Turner Bequest VIII A, XIV A, B); from the later 1790s come Tate D00665, D02358, D02363, D02365, D08262 (Turner Bequest XXVII D, L Q, V and X, and CXXI G) and studies in the South Wales sketchbook (Tate D00659; Turner Bequest XXVI 97) and the Smaller Fonthill sketchbook (Tate D02237, D02240; Turner Bequest XLVIII 2, 5). A view in the Rhine, Strassburg and Oxford sketchbook (Tate D04769; Turner Bequest LXXVII 29a) dates from the early 1800s. Finished watercolours from the 1790s are in the British Museum, London,4 the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge,5 the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford,6 and private collections.7
There are other Oxford views inside the front cover opposite (D41045), on the verso (D21976) and on folio 2 recto (D21977).
Finberg 1909, II, p.729; see also Shanes 1979, p.156; Lyles 1992, p.55; English Watercolours and Drawings, exhibition catalogue 1996, p.[15]; Herrmann 1990, pp.131–[2].
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.400 no.853.
See Harrison 2000, pp.86–7 and in general.
Wilton 1979, p.309 no.71, pl.17.
Ibid., p.309 no.72, reproduced.
Ibid., p.333 no.295, reproduced.
Ibid., p.314 no.133, reproduced; for another, not in Wilton, see Harrison 2000, p.101 no.24, fig.21.
Technical notes:
There are two short, parallel tears at the centre of the outer edge, between which a small section of the leaf has become creased and folded back, corresponding to part of the brass clasp inside the front cover opposite (D41045).

Matthew Imms
August 2013

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