Otmoor, Oxford, England
Study of Nature on Shotover Hill
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From the Collection
Watercolour over traces of pencil heightened with touches of bodycolour and gum arabic on blue paper
24.3 by 47.6 cm, 9 ½ by 18 ¾ in.
Shotover Hill is three miles east of Oxford and the London to Oxford road used to pass over it. It would have been an easily accessible sketching area for Turner of Oxford and has impressive views over South Oxfordshire. However Turner of Oxford concentrates on the more everyday rather than the view in the present watercolour He may also have visited Shotover as it was a rare source of the pigment ochre.
A watercolour of quarries on Shotover Hill, dated 1816 and of a similar size, is in the Spooner Bequest in the Courtauld Institute and an oil `Gravel Pit on Shotover Hill’ is in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (see Timothy Wilcox and Christopher Titterton, William Turner of Oxford, exhibition catalogue, 1984, nos. 35 and 36, both ill.). Turner of Oxford exhibited `Shot-over-Hill, Oxfordshire’ at the Society of Painters in Watercolours in 1827, no. 337.
Turner of Oxford lived most of his life in Oxfordshire. He was mainly brought up by his uncle in the manor house of Shipton-on-Cherwell and was apprenticed to John Varley as a fifteen year old in 1804. He was elected member of the Society of Painters in Watercolours in 1808 and exhibited 464 pictures there between then and his death. Until 1815 he mainly worked in the southern counties but from the late 1830s he travelled widely in Britain although he never went abroad. From about 1833, he was living in Oxford and built up a successful practice as a drawing master. His views of Oxford and the surrounding area are particularly sought after.