An ambitious but unfinished work, based on the small watercolour of 1792 (Tate D00156; Turner Bequest XIV C), this sheet anticipates Turner’s treatment of light in drawings of 1795, but is certainly earlier, probably dating from 1793–4. The pencil drawing is quite different from that of a contemporary Oxford view (Tate D00154; Turner Bequest XIV A). Turner’s intention to produce a large watercolour perhaps for exhibition is clear not only from the subtlety of the lighting, but also from the complexity of the figure groups included in the foreground: students playing marbles or descending steps, dons looking on; a woman with a cartload of goods drawn by two donkeys; cart-horses with a laden cart, and a distant stage coach.
The sheet was formerly folded laterally in two places.
Blank; stained and dirty.
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