Joseph Mallord William Turner

Oxford from North Hinksey


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 347 × 505 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 98

Catalogue entry

This loose colour study has been related by Eric Shanes to the watercolour (Manchester Art Gallery)1 commissioned by the Oxford printseller James Ryman and engraved in 1841 as Oxford from North Hinksey.2 Shanes suggests this is a variation of that composition, perhaps intended as an undeveloped subject for Turner’s Picturesque Views in England and Wales,3 the last engravings of which were issued in 1838. He notes the source material as various panoramic sketches towards the back (as now foliated) of the First Mossel and Oxford sketchbook, from Tate D28331 (Turner Bequest CCLXXXIX 21) onwards.4 Cecilia Powell has dated the continental sketches in the book to 1839, but observes that the ‘Oxford ones ... clearly predate them’.5
Without discussing or identifying the present work, Anne Lyles has proposed that at least three of Turner’s loose colour studies of the view west along Oxford’s High Street (Tate D25125, D25126, D25127, D25228, D25485; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 3, 4, 5, 106, 362) might have been intended for a central Oxford counterpoint to the finished watercolour.6 Eric Shanes suggests instead that the present ‘colour beginning’, others of Oxford college gardens (Tate D25217, D25218, D36314; CCLXIII 95, 96, CCCLXV 24) and another of the view east along the High Street (Tate D36316; Turner Bequest CCCLXV 26) ‘may have been made during the same session of work’; however, since Ryman only commissioned one view of Oxford, this and the other four would not be directly connected with the completed ‘North Hinksey’ vista, but possibly (depending on their dating before or after 1838) as ideas for late additions to England and Wales or ‘for a separate series of Oxford views that never saw the light of day’.7
Collin Harrison has related the present study directly to the finished Ryman watercolour,8 which he discusses in detail and dates to about 1839.9 Nevertheless, David Hill has described the status of Shanes’s identification as ‘not proven or positively dubious’.10
See also the introductions to the present subsection of identified but unrealised Oxford subjects and the overall England and Wales ‘colour beginnings’ grouping to which this work has been assigned.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.404 no.889, reproduced, as c.1835–40.
Shanes 1997, p.87.
See ibid., pp.13, 19, 100, 105.
Ibid., p.87; see also Cecilia Powell, Turner’s Rivers of Europe: The Rhine, Meuse and Mosel, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1991, p.44.
Powell 1991, p.218.
Lyles 1992, p.58.
Shanes 1997, p.86.
Harrison 2000, p.93.
‘Turner’s Last View of Oxford’, ibid., pp.92–6.
Hill 1997, p.7.
Shanes 1997, p.86.

Matthew Imms
March 2013

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