Joseph Mallord William Turner

Lecture Diagram 28: Perspective Method for a Cube (after Jacques Androuet du Cerceau)

c.1810

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

Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 672 x 999 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17042
Turner Bequest CXCV 72

Display caption

Diagram 28 illustrates a method published by Jacques Androuet Du Cerceau, a French architect and engraver who wrote handbooks for artists on the Italian Renaissance style. Turner’s diagram is based on an illustration from Du Cerceau’s Leçons de Perspective Positive 1576.

Here the ‘distance point’ method of the previous diagram (shown to the left) is more explicit. Turner shows how to use a central point (E for Eye) and two distance points (V) to draw a cube with a face parallel to the picture plane.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

For Turner’s survey of historical methods for drawing a cube in perspective, in Lecture 2 as Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy, see notes to Diagram 27 (Tate D17041; Turner Bequest CXCV 71). Following that example, drawn from Jean Pélerin (‘Viator’), Turner presented Diagram 28, illustrating one published by Jacques Androuet du Cerceau (1515–1585), a French architect and engraver who produced handbooks for artists on the Italian Renaissance style. Turner’s diagram is a loose adaptation of a series of engravings from du Cerceau’s Leçons de perspective positive (1576, leçon IIII [sic] and V). Maurice Davies explains that Turner ‘omits many matters of detail’ in his description of du Cerceau’s method’.1 Some time after 1817, Turner revisited du Cerceau’s treatise in order to add information to his survey.2 See Tate D16972; Turner Bequest CXCV 3) for a later diagram illustrating another method for a cube by du Cerceau.
1
Davies 1994, p.90; see Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 F folio 2 verso and M folios 2 verso–3.
2
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 AA folios 7 and verso.
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.
Verso:
Blank, save for an inscription by an unknown hand in pencil ‘74’ bottom left.

Andrea Fredericksen
June 2004

Supported by The Samuel H. Kress Foundation

Revised by David Blayney Brown
January 2012

Read full Catalogue entry