Drawing the Radcliffe Observatory, Oxford

The Radcliffe Observatory was built in the late 1700s and is now part of Green Templeton College. It sits opposite the glittering glass frontage of the Mathematics Faculty. The tower of the main observatory building is based on the Tower of the Winds in Athens though from what I remember, the original building is a lot smaller.

The actual observatory is the smaller domed building which is slightly to one side in the foreground of the photo below. Changing light conditions with the growth of north Oxford meant that the observatory instruments were moved long ago but the observatory rooms are still used by the college. On my visit this included a band practicing Glenn Miller – which I took as a bonus.

I’ve drawn the observatory before and will include one of my earlier, simpler sketches below. Sitting out in bright afternoon sunshine meant that the observatory was often brilliantly lit up reflecting a bright orange-yellow colour and made it a pleasant experience. The actual drawing of the observatory is quite tricky and getting the relative dimensions and proportions right is really quite difficult.

Here is a photo of the observatory in afternoon light

Starting sketching..

The end of one sessions sketching…

The next day I went back and did some more sketching – adding extra sections on additional sheets…

Later I scanned these drawings and pasted them together. Below is the result – and about as far as I’ve gotten. I think this might be a nice one to do a watercolour of… but just some other time.

My finished pasted together sketch.

For comparison here is that earlier simpler watercolour, from back in 2021. It is simpler but more quirky – and both of these drawings need work..

An earlier watercolour sketch

2 thoughts on “Drawing the Radcliffe Observatory, Oxford

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