This watercolour was used as an extra-illustration to Walter Thornbury’s Life of Turner, where Paul Sandby is described as 'one of the chief heralds of Turner'.
This ‘extra-illustrated’ copy of George Walter Thornbury’s The Life of J. M. W. Turner, R.A., London 1862 (Tab.438.a.1), enhanced with additional illustrations and manuscripts, was bequeathed to the British Museum in 1919 by John Platt (1842-1902), a businessman and Justice of the Peace from Warrington. Platt created many extra-illustrated volumes and collected a huge number of valuable prints, autographs and drawings. He has tried to amass materials to illustrate every figure, place or theme mentioned in Thornbury’s text: around 1,600 portraits, views, engravings, drawings and letters, expanding the original two volumes to thirteen.
As it is contained in these volumes, much of this material has not previously been examined by art historians. This west view of Oxford focuses on the Radcliffe Camera, a library designed by James Gibbs. It was opened by the Trustees of the university in May 1749, who included Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn (1749–1789). Williams-Wynn was an enthusiastic supporter of the arts in the 1770s and 1780s. Sandby toured north Wales in with him in 1771. Wynn matriculated from Oriel College, Oxford, on 9 May 1766, but left the university without a degree in 1768. He was created a DCL in 1771, presumably to honour his father's name.