This distant view of Oxford is taken from Abingdon Road, a main road situated to the south of the city, named after the town of Abingdon. Between the road and the city of Oxford is a tranquil country view, populated by cows, sheep and people working or at leisure. The distant city beyond can be recognised by its many spires and the dome of the Radcliffe Camera within the ancient university.
A sketchbook by Turner, now in the collection of the Tate, includes a lightly drawn view of Oxford from Abingdon Road in pencil and watercolour. The sketch was made in 1789, when the artist was staying at Sunningwell, near Oxford, with his maternal uncle, Joseph Marshall. The Tate collection also includes a more finished watercolour view of the scene by Turner. However, a pencil drawing of this precise composition, annotated by Turner, is in the collection of the British Museum and was probably made in preparation for the engraving. The engraving was made by John Pye and published, along with Turner's view of Oxford High Street, by James Wyatt. Versions in oil on canvas of this scene and the ‘View of the High-Street, Oxford’ were exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1812.
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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