Joseph Mallord William Turner

Lecture Diagram 15: The Terminology of Perspective of Dr Brook Taylor


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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 677 x 1015 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCV 59

Display caption

Diagram 15 forms part of Turner’s ongoing discussion in Lecture 2 devoted to the terminology of perspective. It shows terms used by Dr Brook Taylor, an English mathematician who wrote Linear Perspective: Or, a New Method of Representing justly all Manner of Objects as they appear to the Eye in all Situations 1715.

Taylor was the first to coin the term ‘vanishing point’.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

Diagram 15 forms part of Turner’s discussion, in Lecture 2 as Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy, of the terminology of perspective.1 The drawing illustrates terminology used by the mathematician Dr Brook Taylor (1685–1731) in his Linear Perspective: Or, A New Method of Representing Justly all Manner of Objects as They Appear to the Eye in all Situations (1715). However, Maurice Davies states that while the diagram lists terminology used by Taylor, there is no similar diagram in his treatise.2
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 L folio 4. For earlier versions of the lecture text, see D folio 3 and E folio 5 verso–7.
Davies 1994, p.299 note 46.
Technical notes:
The sheet conforms to others in the series identified by Peter Bower as Double Elephant size Whatman paper made by William Balston, at Springfield Mill, Maidstone, Kent. The largest group within the perspective drawings, this batch of paper shows a ‘grid-like series of shadows that can be seen within the sheet in transmitted light. This appears to have been caused by a trial method of supporting the woven wire mould cover on the mould’. Because this is the only batch he has seen with such a feature, Bower believes that ‘it may have been tried on one pair of moulds and for some reason never tried again’. He also writes that it is ‘not the best Whatman paper by any means; the weight of this group is also very variable and the moulds have not been kept clean during use’.1
Notes in Tate catalogue files.
Currently laid down.

Andrea Fredericksen
June 2004

Supported by The Samuel H. Kress Foundation

Revised by David Blayney Brown
January 2012

Read full Catalogue entry

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