Joseph Mallord William Turner

Diagram of the Geometry of a Parabola, after John Hamilton

c.1809

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Medium
Pen and ink on paper
Dimensions
Support: 88 x 115 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D07385
Turner Bequest CVIII 18

Catalogue entry

Davies has identified the whole sequence of notes and diagrams running from folio 15 verso to folio 18 verso (D40670, D07381–D07384, this page and D07386) as taken from John Hamilton, Stereography, or, a Compleat Body of Perspective, in All Its Branches, London 1738.1 Turner could have consulted the copy at the British Museum (since transferred to the British Library, London).
This diagram, taken from Hamilton’s plate 29 figure 84 no.1, was used as the basis of one of two versions of Turner’s perspective lecture diagram 22, headed ‘Hamilton’ and showing the geometry of a parabola, as noted by Davies2 and Andrea Fredericksen (see entry for Tate D17035; Turner Bequest CXCV 65); however, when Turner used it again for the similar diagram 23, he incorrectly headed it ‘Emmerson’3 (see entry for Tate D17037; Turner Bequest CXCV 67). There is a related diagram from Hamilton on folio 17 verso opposite (D07384), together with text explaining the present drawing.

Matthew Imms
June 2008

1
Davies 1994, p.288.
2
Ibid., p.255.
3
Davies 1992, p.107 note 45; for Turner’s finished diagram, see fig.30.

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