In the quadrangle of Brazen Nose College (now known as Brasenose College) stands a statue of ‘Samson Slaying a Philistine’. Beside it, a grass roller and scythe have been temporarily abandoned by the gardener, who leans on a spade and chats to an academic. A copy of Flemish sculptor Giambologna's group statue of ‘Samson Slaying a Philistine’ was purchased by Brasenose College in 1728 and transported to Oxford by barge. It remained in the quadrangle until 1881.
In 1799 Turner accepted a modest fee of 10 guineas per drawing from the Oxford University Press in return for the prestigious commission to provide watercolours to be engraved as the headpieces of the annual ‘Oxford Almanack’ (published 1799–11). He provided ten works in total and this example was engraved for the ‘Almanack’ of 1805. The original watercolour by Turner, from which James Basire I engraved the image, was painted in 1803–04 and is now in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
J. M. W. Turner was born in London and studied at the Royal Academy Schools from the age of 14. He was elected a Royal Academician in 1802 and opened a public gallery, an extension to his home in Harley Street, two years later. Turner also began to build Sandycombe Lodge, Twickenham, from 1812. After the hostilities with France, he travelled in Europe, including a visit to Italy in 1819. Throughout the 1820s he drew topographical subjects, notably for C. Heath’s ‘Picturesque Views in England and Wales’ (1827-38). Some 370 engravings after his works of the 1830s helped spread his fame through Europe and America. In 1845 he served as Acting President of the Academy. He bought 6 Davis Place, Chelsea, the following year, where he died aged 76.
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