Boars Hill, Oxford, England
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This watercolour was probably the result of a commission by one of Turner’s patrons, to record the park with its herd of fallow deer and its dramatic view across to the distant Whiteleaf Hill, with its dramatic hill figure.
Turner based himself in his native Oxfordshire, apart from a brief spell in London when he was studying under John Varley. He built up a highly successful practice as a watercolourist and drawing master, in Oxford.
Whiteleaf Hill lies about 20 miles from Oxford, between Princess Risborough and Great Missenden. It has been an important local landmark for centuries, Neolithic and Bronze Age barrows are situated on the hill and a 100m high chalk hill figure, Whiteleaf Cross, is carved into the side of the hill. The origins of the chalk figure are obscure, although it was not mentioned in any literature before 1742. The hill and chalk figure are visible across the Vale of Aylesbury and as far away as Headington Hill, Oxford.