Joseph Mallord William Turner

Diagram of a Cube in Perspective, after Jean Dubreuil


View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Graphite on paper
Support: 87 x 117 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXIV 14 a

Catalogue entry

Maurice Davies has identified the source as notes on the history of perspective in Joshua Kirby’s Dr Brook Taylor’s Method of Perspective Made Easy Both in Theory and Practice: see the 1754 Ipswich edition, Book II, pp.81–4,1 and the 1768 London edition, Book II, pp.88–92.2 There are other notes from the same source on folios 11 verso, 12 recto, 13 verso and 14 recto (D07975, D07976, D07979, D07980).
Although the present diagram is labelled ‘Videman Frize’ by Turner, it does not show a perspective method by Jan (Hans) Vredeman de Vries (1527–circa 1606), the Dutch painter and architectural designer, but rather Kirby’s diagram illustrating a method attributed to Jean Dubreuil or ‘the Jesuit’ (1602–1670), as given in Kirby 1768, Book II, pl.XIX, fig.5,3 whereas fig.4 shows Vredeman de Vries’s method, as noted by Andrea Fredericksen in her catalogue entry for Turner’s perspective lecture diagram labelled ‘Jesuit’ (Tate D16983; Turner Bequest CXCV 14) which shows the same method as the present sketch, and indicates that Turner corrected himself later in his preparations. For lecture diagram actually based on Vredeman de Vries, see Tate D16978 and D17045 (Turner Bequest CXCV 9, 75).
For the dating of these and other notes made prior to Turner’s 1811 Royal Academy perspective lectures see the Introduction to the sketchbook.

Matthew Imms
January 2012

Davies 1994, p.306 note 3.
Ibid., p.290.
Ibid., pp.96–7, 310 note 73.

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