Joseph Mallord William Turner

Lecture Diagram 16, Later Renumbered 47: The Terminology of Perspective of Thomas Malton Junior

c.1810

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 675 x 1002 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17064
Turner Bequest CXCV 94

Display caption

Thomas Malton Junior was an architectural draughtsman and son of the author of A Compleat Treatise on Perspective 1775. He introduced Turner to many basic principles of perspective when Turner joined his studio as a young apprentice in the late 1780s.

The diagram provides terminology related to the ‘measure point’ method, a technique favoured by draughtsmen for rendering buildings in perspective.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

This diagram, originally numbered 16 and then 47, was used at different points in Turner’s lectures as Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy. It illustrates terminology used by the younger Thomas Malton (1748–1804) to demonstrate the measure point method, a technique favoured by draughtsmen for rendering buildings in perspective. Malton was an architectural draughtsman and son of the author of A Compleat Treatise on Perspective in Theory and Practice on the True Principles of Dr Brook Taylor (1775). He introduced Turner to many basic principles of perspective when Turner joined his studio as a young apprentice in the late 1780s. He is not known to have written any books on perspective, suggesting that Turner came into contact with unpublished notes or learned of Malton’s approach first-hand.1
Turner does not specifically discuss Malton’s procedure in Lecture 2, nor does he refer in the manuscript to a diagram numbered ‘16’. But Maurice Davies explains that the diagram may have been used here to accompany definitions of terminology associated with the measure point method.2 He writes that the diagram was also used in Lecture 3 to supplement Turner’s discussion of Diagrams 35 and 36 (Tate D17049 and D17050; Turner Bequest CXCV 79, 80), which demonstrate how to develop a double cube into a simple building by way of a basic plan-based method.3 After 1811, Turner wrote a more detailed account of the measure point method in a section of what would become Lecture 4. Here he specifically refers to Diagram 47.4
1
Davies 1992, p.104 note 15.
2
Davies 1994, pp.137–8.
3
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS M folio 8 verso.
4
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS M folio 32.
Technical notes:
Peter Bower states that the sheet is 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
1
Notes in Tate catalogue files.

Andrea Fredericksen
June 2004

Revised by David Blayney Brown
January 2012

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like