JMW Turner's 'The High Street, Oxford' (1810)
JMW Turner's 'The High Street, Oxford' (1810)

Private collection courtesy of the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

Ashmolean raises money to buy Turner's High Street painting

Matt Pickles

The Ashmolean Museum has raised the money needed to acquire an iconic painting of Oxford’s High Street by JMW Turner.

The Museum launched a public appeal in June to acquire the painting of 1810 called The High Street, Oxford.

The painting was offered to the nation in lieu of inheritance tax, meaning the Museum needed to raise only £860,000 to acquire it. Grants of £550,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £220,000 from the Art Fund and £30,000 from the Friends and Patrons of the Ashmolean meant that £60,000 was required. Local people and museum visitors exceeded this target in only four weeks.

'The Museum has been overwhelmed by public support,' says Dr Alexander Sturgis, Director of the Ashmolean.

'With well over 800 people contributing to the appeal, it is clear that the local community, as well as visitors to the Museum from across the world, feel that this picture, the greatest painting of the city ever made, must remain on show in a public museum in Oxford.'

The Museum plans to lend the painting to regional museums so as many people as possible will be able to see it. The painting will also be at the heart of a new series of educational activities for schools and young people, and it will be part of the Museum’s Nineteenth Century Gallery which will be refurbished and reopened in early 2016.