Joseph Mallord William Turner

The High Street, 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 a

Catalogue entry

Turner looks west along Oxford’s High Street from the junction with Queen’s Lane, with The Queen’s College in the right foreground including its cupola, the castellations of University College further down on the left, the spire of St Mary’s Church beyond All Souls College on the right, and the spire of All Saints Church in the distance.
The artist worked repeatedly around Oxford in his early career, and returned periodically.1 The present sketch has been linked to a group of ‘colour beginnings’, possibly studies for a Picturesque Views in England and Wales subject (Tate D25125, D25126, D25127, D25228, D25485; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 3, 4, 5, 106, 362);2 they are variant views comparable with that shown in the oil painting High Street, Oxford, commissioned by an Oxford patron and exhibited in 1810 (private collection, on loan to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford).3 Of the ‘colour beginnings’, Anne Lyles has noted that the present sketch only corresponds closely with D25126 and D25228.4 D25125 and D25127 may possibly date from the 1820s; however, since D25485 is watermarked 1837, all five may have been made together in the late 1830s.
There are other Oxford views inside the front cover (D41045), on the recto (D21975, the basis of an England and Wales watercolour) and on folio 2 recto opposite (D21977).
See Harrison 2000, pp.86–7 and in general.
See Butlin, Wilton and Gage 1974, pp.26, 125; Wilton 1975, p.22; Wilton 1976, p.143; Shanes 1979, pp.152, 156; Wilton 1979, p.182; Shanes 1990, pp.260, 286 note 205.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.73–4 no.102, Pl.109 (colour).
Lyles 1992, p.56.
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 (D41045).

Matthew Imms
August 2013

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