WILLIAM TURNER OF OXFORD, O.W.S.
(1789 – 1862)
Looking over Cowley Marsh from Bullingdon, near Oxford
Private Collection, UK
William Turner spent almost all of his life in Oxfordshire. On the death of his parents he went to live with his uncle, also William Turner, at first at Burford and then, from 1804, in the Manor House, Shipton-on-Cherwell. His interest in drawing led to his joining the household of John Varley in London and to his first exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1807. In 1808 he was elected to full membership of the Watercolour Society and contributed to their exhibitions every year for the rest of his life.
Turner of Oxford characteristically depicted broad landscape views with dramatic naturally observed cloud effects . His work was neglected by the art establishment in the later part of his life and this called forth the indignation of John Ruskin. Sir Thomas Jackson, the architect, was given instruction by Turner 1857–8 while he was an undergraduate at Wadham. He records him as dressed in black with white tie, like a parson of the old school, ‘a modest and unassuming man and an artist of rare conscientiousness who had never been accorded the consideration he deserved’. He grew plants in the garden of 16 St John Street so that he could refer to nature for the foregrounds of his pictures.