Joseph Mallord William Turner

Oxford: Christ Church from the River


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 262 × 415 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXI G

Display caption

Just after the turn of the century Turner made finished watercolours of the city and colleges of Oxford, for engraving as illustrations for the annual University Calendar or 'Almanack'. They represent the climax of his first phase as an architectural draughtsman. This view of Christ Church and Tom Tower across the meadows at dusk is more atmospheric than these commissioned designs. Its breadth of handling and composition relate to the work of Turner's early friend Thomas Girtin.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Although Finberg listed this sheet separately from the Smaller Fonthill sketchbook (TB XLVIII), it evidently belongs there, and its dimensions agree with that identification, although one of its edges is very irregular. The design is based on the pencil drawing D02237 (Turner Bequest XLVIII 2). As noted in the entry for that leaf, it was presumably executed in preparation for the watercolour South View of Christ Church, &c., from the Meadows (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford),1 published in the Oxford Almanack in 1799 (Tate impression: T05919). In style and palette it has much in common with the views that Turner made for Lord Mansfield’s set of views of the college; see Tate D02240, D02363, D02364 and D08192 (Turner Bequest XLVIII 5, L V, W, CXIX E).
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.333 no.295, reproduced.
Blank; inscribed in pen and brown ink ‘Christ Church Coll Oxford’ and ‘61’, and in pencil ‘8’.

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

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